Building a Practice

Success in yoga is not measured by the advanced postures — it’s measured by the depth of the inner process. The best yogis are the ones who master not just the physical acrobatics but also the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the practice. -Kino MacGregor

from “10,000 Hours of Yoga”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kino-macgregor/yoga-practice_b_2870247.html

I always used to be in love with the idea of yoga, but never put that love into action. As a musician, I’ve often heard that success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, so I’m setting concrete goals – to do some form of yoga EVERY day for the next year, hopefully a class every day, but if not, then at least a few sun salutations, or my own 30 min practice. 

Today was the 3rd consecutive day I went to a yoga class in a row. Never in my life have I gone to 3 yoga classes 3 days in a row! Going every day makes me stay focused and makes me realize just how much I am improving from day to day with this regular practice. My goal is to keep this trend of practicing yoga every single day going for as long as I can. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you will know that I’m not too flexible and not too good at balancing poses since I’m always on the move, physically and mentally.

But today, I was able to root myself down in tree and focused my gaze (drishti) on a discolored spot of wood in the room right in front of me. I realized I could stay in that pose for as long as I wanted! I was even able to begin exploring the dancer pose and balance in warrior 3, as well as come into and out of the pose slowly – it was such an amazing feeling. To add to that, my teacher said, while we were doing bridge pose – “you can even bring your ankles a little farther under your knees and try to rise higher because you’re probably bendy + flexy.”

Me, flexible?!?!?! But then she started to offer me modifications for the rest of the twisting poses in the class, and I discovered I was able to do them – like reaching my hand farther around my body during a spinal twist.

Yoga has a funny way of gently curbing the ego by acting through the container of the body. Just as I was feeling a little too proud of myself for being able to grab my foot during a spinal twist with my knees to the right, I twisted to the left, thinking “Well this should be easy!” and found I wasn’t able to grab my foot! 

Instead of feeling angry or frustrated, I felt only compassion for myself – if not today, it will come later. Just as that physical expectation was quickly shattered, as we moved into Shavasana, I found myself applying this short lesson to everyday life:

In life we expect so much of ourselves, and having high expectations is good so that we don’t shortchange ourselves of our own potential. But sometimes we expect too much of ourselves, and that is an easy pathway to becoming disconnected from the present moment.

Just because we are able to accomplish something at the height of our “stress-meters” once does not mean we should continually put our minds and bodies through that stress. This semester I got through a credit load double the load of a full-time student in addition to working 3 jobs and involved with 3 student organizations…and trying to get my fitness back into control. I would feel like making a cup of tea for myself was an embarrassing indulgence. Although I succeeded objectively, this is not an experience that I could necessarily succeed with if I tried to repeat it.

The moral of the story is…

I read about a study recently in which people who expressed gratitude more frequently found their lives to be more meaningful and happy in general. So today, I express my gratitude for this newly-discovered passion of yoga.

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