In my bedroom bookcase, there's a small pile of yoga books that I bought during the Sivananda Teacher Training course (TTC) I completed in California last last year.
Until yesterday they remained in exactly the same place as I had left them on my return home in November - the victims of an extended 'drying out' period, brought on by a hugely intensive month of yoga study.
But last night I took the plunge, and was rewarded by finding a section in one of the recommended books, Essentials of Yoga Practice and Philosophy, that made me smile - and then reflect.
The final chapter recommends how serious yoga students should divide the hours in the day. Here's a sample of how it says you should, ideally, spend a typical day:
6-7 hours' sleep, rising at 5.30am
1 ½ hours asana session
20-30 minutes of meditation
1 hour of self-study
1-2 hours of your favourite 'sattvic' (pure) hobby
6 hours of positive work (such as karma yoga, or 'selfless service')
3 hours for food, cooking, eating and digesting
2 hours for friends and family
2 hours for personal hygiene
2 hours for miscellaneous free time
Additions to this list would include two meals of fresh vegetarian (if not vegan) food a day and no chocolate, caffeine or alcohol.
All of which is all very well if one has the pared-down luxury of living long-term in an ashram, where the pursuit of a serious yoga lifestyle is the raison d'etre.
Alas for most of us, priorities lie elsewhere. A sample of my day when I'm working in London would look something like this:
7 hours sleep, rising at 7am
no asana or meditation session
rushed bowl of soggy cornflakes
mad dash for the commuter train at 7.50am
90 minutes on the train, then dodging stampedes on the London Underground
8 hours sitting in an airless office, typing and staring at a computer screen
30 minutes jostling for space at a cafe off Oxford Street wolfing down lunch
90 minutes unpleasant commute back home
30 minutes cooking and eating dinner
TV, the internet, reading, talking, perhaps the odd sneaky glass of vino blanco
To bed, exhausted
Hmm. I certainly don't have time for two hours of personal hygiene every day (the mind boggles).
No prizes for guessing which blueprint I'd chose in an ideal world. Though I know what the Swamis at the Sivananda ashram I stayed at last autumn would say: the choice of which life I lead is entirely mine.
Does your average day come close to the Sivananda/yoga ideal? I'd love to hear. Please log in and leave a comment.
Lucia Cockcroft, editor