Everything requires effort and practicing Ashtanga requires, to put it simply, a special effort. Everyone’s journey is different, yet we can compare stories that all start with “I remember when . . . I have been thinking about my personal journey on this yogic path and I surely have not always put forth the right amount of effort. Usually is way too much and not in the right place. When it comes to yoga you have to put in the effort and then it has to be the right amount and also in the right place at the right time. We discussed this in our Yoga Sutra class today and I got to thinking about practice and how I feel today on this trip to Mysore. How do we know what the right amount of effort is? Does your teacher tell you? Is this in the books or can you perhaps learn it in a video? Is it when you can catch your heels or float back, (both I would like to do effortlessly by the way.) This is where I have it all wrong.
I have always been a hard worker. I know it is in my upbringing in combination with my temperament that gave me these most wonderful quality traits or Samskaras. They are not so wonderful when it gets in the way of practicing yoga and in my opinion especially when you set out to practice the Ashtanga yoga method. Over time this driven quality set me up for disappointments, frustration and pain. That got in my way earlier this year and a wise woman who teaches in Kentucky said to me today in our brief encounter, “Sometimes we just get lost without a teacher.” How true this is.
We think practice can be our teacher and it is without a doubt. We spend a lot of time on the mat working things out and we keep showing up every day to practice. We need feedback, we need to know that we are moving in the right direction and we need proper technique. We also need to know who we are and what we are working with. We have to take account for our limitations and work with them, not against them. I thought I could bypass more hard work and even made up some “shoulds” which I imposed upon myself. There is no schedule with this method, only techniques and practice. You can do it your way or the way it is prescribed. I have tried other ways and I keep going back to how I am being taught today. This year in Mysore I am happier and feel more at ease when I come to the mat. I don’t have these preconceived notions and start judging myself. I have more patience. These judgements can set us up for these stories we have about ourselves. They are not correct as they are only limitations that the minds sets on us. Our bodies limitations are obvious and we work with the proper amount of effort to find out the method and the teachings so that we can practice yoga and then take this into our lives.
It’s in the putting forth the effort and in the letting go of the outcome that will bring us more happiness and freedom. So it is with an open heart and dedication that I proceed on the journey putting forth the effort where I need it most of the time. I feel calmer and peaceful this trip. I seem to be sporting an inner smile that expresses that I am finally beginning to understand as well as experience what it means about putting forth the proper amount of effort on the mat and in my life.