One of the most important things that the practice of yoga tries to teach us is to recognize what is true and acknowledge it, to embrace the path of Satya—both speaking and living in adherence to the Truth. Okay, the truth is, I’ve never been a big fan of Winter. I recognize that Winter is not only inevitable, but also useful in providing us with perspective in the unfolding of the year ahead. I’ve tried skiing and snowboarding a few times—last time out I sprained my MCL—but I’ve never been a big fan of winter sports. I like to be warm and cozy more and more with each passing year. Winter is the most vata time of the year—cold and dry—and as I get older, like most people, my constitution gets more vata as well. The joints get creaky and it’s more difficult to get the body warm enough to get a good sweat going. To compound the issue, we’ve been having heating problems at the yoga studio. Apparently we need a new compressor. The heating guy said, “Imagine a car with a V-8 engine running on only two cylinders. That’s your heater.” Recently, the nights in Encinitas have been cold (in the 30’s), so last night after class I set the thermostat for 75 degrees, thinking that even with only two cylinders, the heater was still producing some warmth. This morning when I came in at 6am the thermostat said 65 degrees and I figured even those last two cylinders had stopped working. I went home and picked up a couple of small space heaters to put in the studio because I just don’t like practicing in a room that’s less than 70 degrees. It makes me feel like a bit of a wuss when I think about those yogis in the Himalayas who sit in the snow naked and are capable of generating enough internal heat to dry wet sheets that are wrapped around them. That was something that Guruji never taught me! Anyway, we ordered a new generator, but it’ll take a week to get here. To add insult to injury I hurt my shoulder body surfing in Maui last month and I’ve had a cold for the past week. Both things together have conspired to make practice difficult and painful. The cold now seems to be on its way out--just a little residual respiratory stuff—but it has definitely sapped my energy and made me even lazier than usual for the past week. I’ve used it as an excuse to spend a prodigious amount of time lying in the sun and rereading a trilogy of books by one of my favorite authors, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, who writes of Barcelona during the 1930s through 1950s. in the style of the great gothic novels of Charles Dickens and Alexander Dumas. The Shadow of the Wind, the first book in the series, is one of my favorite novels of all time. The other books are great too—filled with humanity, romance, suffering, and mystery. They are books for people like me who love books. Each one contains a visit to a mysterious and secret sanctuary called “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books”. My wife tells me that our library is beginning to look like a “Cemetery of Forgotten Books”, saying, “We’re running out of room. If you’re going to keep buying new books you’re going to have to start giving some away.” When a person visits the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books” for the first time, they get to leave with a book of their choice. My wife wants to start this policy at our house.
I’m thinking now that the worst of Winter is over. I’ve paid for my sins of excess over the holidays with my cold, the heater is getting fixed and my massage guy, Allan, did some great work on my shoulder today. In 10 days I’m headed for Tulum, Mexico, for a week- long yoga retreat. There will be warm days and nights, 78 degree Caribbean water to swim in, no shoes for a week and endless white sand beaches to walk on, Mayan ruins, cenotes , magnificent night-time skies, great food, and friendly people. I’m definitely ready.