Love The Practice

January 28, 2011 § 3 Comments

This was a four-day practice week, and although it’s hardly the Ashtanga ‘ideal’ of a six-day week, I’m feeling fabulous. It seems like this pattern of two days practice, one day off is working very nicely for my body at the moment, as opposed to pushing through with practice on consecutive days.

Wednesday’s practice was one of the best I’ve had in recent memory. Deep and slow breathing, calm focus, and, more importantly, pain-free. No achy shoulder, no painful hamstring, no compressed lower back….I finished the session with a deep sense of peace and tranquility. Ironically enough, I woke that morning thinking about the posts I’ve read recapping Sharath’s latest conference in Mysore. Apart from the ‘No Coffee, No Prana’ directive, the other thing that stood out for me was the reminder that yoga is a spiritual practice, and that one should come to the mat out of love for the practice above anything else.

Because it’s a question I ask myself on a fairly regular basis (practically everyday in the depths of winter), I wondered that Wednesday morning about what it means to love the practice. More specifically, how does one distinguish between a love for the practice in and of itself, against the love that comes from achievement and the thrill of a good cardiovascular workout? It’s a question I struggle with all the time, seeking a balance between motivation (enough to get me out of bed) and detachment (so that I don’t burn myself out with just one practice).

The answer to this question revealed itself that Wednesday morning when I walked out of the shala feeling the most peaceful and aware that I’ve felt in a while. I can’t put my finger on what was it about practice that morning that made it for me – the absence of pain definitely helped, the lightness in the vinyasas, the experience of having walked on the edge of one’s physical limits and lived to tell the tale with a smile.

It’s amazing how a few words from a teacher, the Cyber Shala or a book have so much capacity to inspire and reveal new insights. Thank god for words.

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§ 3 Responses to Love The Practice

  • Nobel says:

    Nice post! As for your question, “how does one distinguish between a love for the practice in and of itself, against the love that comes from achievement and the thrill of a good cardiovascular workout?”, my take is that the love of achievement and the thrill of the cardiovascular workout can strengthen one’s love for the practice itself, so long we don’t identify too closely with them, and mistake them for the essence of the practice itself. At least, that’s what I think.

  • D says:

    Well said Nobel. Reading your comment it struck me that it’s a distinction between ego (achievement-seeking) and non-ego. Very fine line to tread – something that the practice helps with 🙂

  • […] but overall on an upward trend compared with the situation about a month ago, I’d say. After my last post about an exhilarating practice, yoga the following day was less thrilling in comparison, but still […]

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