Because no one can really show us how.
I’ve been teaching yoga for twenty years and to master the art of practice is exactly that:; an art form and in my experience, something that does not come easy and something that is earned by each of us. So if you struggle in your practice, I think its par for the course. How does one become disciplined? There are no magic answers. How does one inspire one’s self to achieve what is best for the self and those they make contact with? It’s a process. We fall off the horse and get back on.
Lower your expectations. Be nice to yourself. Don’t expect to recreate a practice for the same time you are in a class. A short focused practice is a more realistic goal.
Once i connected with yoga, I attended four classes per week for years to give myself the practice without having to rely on the discipline I knew I did not have. I wanted to practice but I just couldn’t. One of the mistakes I made was that I was looking for esteem as if the more I did yoga, the better I was and the less I did…’
I was a perfectionist when it came to my yoga and a tyrant . I I had unrealistic and unattainable goals. Fortunately, I was accepting and nurturing and open and loving and supportive to my students. I didn’t know how to extend that to myself.. The pressure was exhausting. I was aware of the dynamic that I had set up in myself but I didn’t really have anyone in the yoga world to process it with.
My practice or lack of it suffered for many years. The more my inner tyrant cracked the whip, the more my inner rebel rebelled. I really had declared war on myself. During this time I got a hamstring injury (not from yoga. When we know each other better I will tell you how I got it). I was in a lot of pain for a long time and I lost a lot of flexibility. I honestly had no idea how to inspire myself . I tried for many years to ignore it my injury and discovered;“The more I resist, the more it persists.”
Yoga was bringing me closer to myself and showing me what my inner world was all about. It takes It takes time to establish our patterns and to undo them. .On an intellectual level, I realized my own judgement was holding me back but I really didn’t know what to do differently. That first step to change for me was being open to doing things in a different way and really living the truth that what I was doing was not working.I think it is fair to say that transformation is experiential. Sometimes we have to saturate what does not work in order to move toward change…. I understood how open and free the body could be yet I couldn’t find a loving way to take myself there.
Eventually, I started to do a gentle practice and found a teacher to work with me. Enter Patricia White. I was ready to open up to different ways of working. Her style is powerful and she focuses on balance and the entire body being involved in movement. She does some very serious slow cook yoga.
I started to work from a place of listening. I was inspired by working with Patricia and motivated to shift things for myself. I put value on undoing and breathing and letting go. I was looking to balance my body. I took on the challenge of discovery and was motivated to “Keep the monsters at bay.” I started to practice from enthusiasm and inspiration. I saw that my hamstring injury was my gift.
Unravelling the layers of resistance is a long process for some people. I get students who mirror me so I see things in them that I have gone thru and I see physical things thru them that my body also does. It really is a work in progress for me now and I mostly welcome my aches and pains as a challenge to see what I can creatively do to move beyond it.
Inspiration, motivation, love, enthusiasm, being clear, calm, regrouping, moving thru blocks, releasing pain, lengthening tight muscles…these are reasons for me to practice. On a practical note I don’t put a time line on my practice. I practice 5 to 6 days a week. I try to work with myself and practice in the morning when I am fresh. I use these inspirational tricks on myself instead of an iron fist. I show up, do my best and let it be what it is.
I am grateful and try not to chase it.Like the weather, there are good days, bad days and go thru the motion days. I devote myself to the whole ball of wax: the good, the bad and the ugly.
I don’t pressure my students to practice because I don’t want to set them up for disappointment. I think for someone who will be doing yoga for years, the discipline of practice It will evolve naturally. I let people know that if they want to practice and are not sure what to do, I can set them up (for free) with a personal practice. Few take me up on the offer.
It takes a lotta love!
Originally published on Toronto Body Mind