“Slowly, slowly, brake!”
These were the words of advice from Kumar the rickshaw driver when he saw me earlier this week on a scooter for the first time. He also said, “Madam, full traffic – no!”
The instruction wasn’t dissimilar to what I have been hearing Sharath say to his assistants when adjusting the numerous different bodies in the shala. “Slowly, slowly!”
In fact since I started to learn to drive three months ago, I’ve noticed many parallels with the practice of yoga. The most notable is definitely the act of facing and overcoming fear by tackling it head on.
I hadn’t driven since I was about 19, and the thought of driving on Dubai’s roads (considered some of the most dangerous in the world!) filled me with terror. I decided it was time face this fear, just as I had when learning to balance on my head in sirsasana C. I also needed to believe what I had always thought was impossible was possible – a bit like karandavasana!
Then came the driving lessons. There was just too much to think about – looking in the mirrors, holding the steering wheel correctly, anticipating the actions of other drivers and remembering to press the accelerator! On top of all of this I had the instructor firing instructions – left lane change, right lane change, and then constantly reminding me to relax! I suddenly had a better understanding of what my students must be feeling learning surya namaskar b and me reminding them to breath!
Then there is the amazing moment, when after the techniques have been mastered, you realise you are driving without strain or effort. You are in the flow! Like the beauty of vinyasa, of moving in and out of asanas, with grace and ease.
Like learning yoga, this is all made possible with the caring and patient guidance of an experienced teacher that you trust, literally, with your life. Thank you to my driving teachers Flavia and Shabana, my scooter teachers Susan and Vicky and my yoga teachers Sharath Jois, Alex Medin, Eileen Hall, David Roche, Gabriella Pascoli, Tarik Thami and Noriyuki Tomiyama. Thank you also to my students for their trust. I remain indebted to you.