How many of us set the same resolution year after year? How many years have you made a commitment to lose 10 pounds or get back to the gym? How many times have you promised yourself you really WOULD start sticking to that budget? How often do you recommit to starting again?
You may not think of this way, but when you practice yoga, you start over ever week. Every time you walk into the studio, come to your mat, sit in Sukhasana and chant that opening Om – you start again.
At the beginning of this year, I have found myself in a similar position that I have found myself in other years: 15 or 20 pounds heavier than I would like to be, not doing exactly what I want to be doing at work, single. I have been struggling lately with the fact that this is not the first time I have found myself here. The committee in my head tells me I’m a failure because I have faced this same struggles, similar challenges, over and over again – if not my whole life. There must be something “wrong” with me if I haven’t figured this out by now, right?
What I’ve just given myself is an excuse to feel lousy, feel sorry for myself, and give up before I’ve even started. I don’t know about you, but I’m an expert at this. As one of my yoga teachers says: you get good at what you show up for.
But my asana practice offers me an alternative. How often have I come to a mat, knowing that the practice wouldn’t be “perfect?” How many times have I tried to hop up into handstand and failed? And fallen from Bakasana right onto my face?
Every time you start your practice, you do the same thing over again. Your Sun Salutations are exactly the same every single time. You follow the same ritual every time and find something new. Perhaps your practice has evolved over time; you’ve tried inhaling in different or opposite poses. Your practice is just that. An experiment. A constant rehearsal, with no final performance. And yet it doesn’t seem anti-climactic, does it?
Today, use your practice as the standard for your life off the mat. Use your yoga as a mirror. Come to this life – with all its challenges, frustrations, setbacks, repeated failures – with the same childlike enthusiasm that you bring to your practice.
After 10+ years, I still can’t hop into handstand. That doesn’t mean I stop trying with the same enthusiasm, light-heartedness, and spirit of “practice not perfection.” Why don’t I approach these 15 pounds the same way?