I’m going to share with you the ultimate wisdom (for today anyway!) that I’ve gleaned from my massive (that’s nearly three years 😉 ) of practicing yoga:
There’ll always be room for improvement and there’s always hope for change.
What has struck me from a regular practice where I try to do something every day no matter what else is going on, whether I want to, or how I’m feeling is that every day is different. This means no single practice matters overmuch. Sure, the highs are nice when you experience something that’s been eluding you, and the lows are dispiriting on days when mind and/or body just won’t play along nicely with you. But this is all OK. No-one ever said yoga was easy, right? There’ll always be room for improvement and there’s always hope for change.
I’m reminding myself of this since I totally flipped out in class last night. Honestly I was behaving like a spoilt child. Everything seemed impossible and far beyond my abilities. EVER. To feel in my body the subtle sensations we were asked to explore, to understand in my head how they might work and therefore how to apply them intelligently when I don’t have the luxury of the teacher’s cues or adjustments, to unlearn old habits and have faith in the new ones even when they feel weird and make for much clumsier transitions… How much undoing must I do to clean up my practice? To make it better for my body and better in the long run for the old ego… Surrendering into the ease of physical shapes the way my body can find them intelligently rather than cramming myself into awkward places because for some inexplicable reason that’s what I expect my yoga to look like.
This is tough stuff. It’s getting to the heart of what āsana practice really is.
“Too much, too much!” I was screaming inside, just wanting class to be over. The concentration required to keep feeling internally and responding appropriately is massive. Why is pratyāhāra a separate limb from āsana?! How could I ever describe my efforts at practice as any kind of offering or sādhana, when I behave so superficially?!
But as my teacher calmly observed in the face of my mini-drama, he’s been practicing a massive amount longer than I have, has spent years figuring this stuff out, and he’s not currently fitting yoga around a ‘normal’ 9-5 job. He didn’t need to point out how massively unrealistic it would be to expect my practice to be much different to how it actually is right now. Plus, if you go to an advanced class, you should expect challenges — so what was my problem?!
After a very little sleep (brain in insomnia overdrive as it processed new ideas about my practice, body grumbling that I’m not feeding it enough around weird practice times) I walked through the beautiful Spring dawn to early class this morning. Get back in the saddle, back on the mat. Stop making dramas, just do your best with the shapes.
Lighten up. Breathe. Smile.
One final time: There’ll always be room for improvement and there’s always hope for change.