Trust the Practice
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
There are many situations that life throws our way to break us from our comfort zone. In restrospect, I see that the times of perceived comfort - business is booming, body feeling good, times of growth in my asana practice, buying a house, enjoying my relationship, etc. - are really just times when it feels like things are in control. We all like control. We like our planned days when everything goes *just* as it should. We like when the cycle and the routine of life is set and we know what to expect with just the perfect amount of unexpected joy, like sleeping in on Saturday morning or finding a 20 in your pocket. But then we live long enough to get a little tossed around by life. As my friend and fellow yogi, Rhonda Abajian, recently said to me, "it's not that the hits stop coming, you just get better at weathering the storm." She is obviously a genius.
The first few months of teaching yoga were absolutely, cold-sweat terrifying to me. Every week I would plan and practice and practice teach each sequence until I could almost memorize it, then I would show up each Wednesday evening and teach the 5 people who came to learn. Thank goodness they were patient as I stumbled through rudimentary instructions and crazy, non-sensical practices that went from A to P and back to C. After every class I took notes on what was successful, what seemed confusing, and what was downright bad. Then, the next week, I'd do it all again. My style and logic has evolved but the process has remained the same: show up, commit to the work, practice, learn, & receive feedback. At this point, teaching is second nature. I plan classes to clarify my intention and maintain consistency but very, very rarely teach exactly what I planned. I know this practice and I know this craft as much as I can right now, and that gives me the confidence to keep giving myself feedback and notes to further hone what I offer.
Yoga, with all of it's good-vibing positivity, is one of the most challenging practices you can choose. It's normal to seek shortcuts or hacks, to do the big pose in a sloppy way just to get the picture or that mental gold star. And hopefully this isn't too daunting of a statement, but yoga isn't just stretching, it's all of life. Yoga is in CrossFit and Jesus and golf and drinking beer with friends or going to the grocery store. It's loving your neighbor and your dog and taking the time to nourish yourself through eating well 98% of the time and then loving your nana's lasagna during Sunday suppers. It's getting pissed when someone cuts you off and then feeling that seething anger spread through your body like a thousand tiny electric bolts. It's the awareness to let that go. It's breath. Yoga is everything all the time, the union of yourself with all that surrounds you. Quite honestly, the bigness of what we do is precisely why it's so difficult to stay with it. Once eyes are open, they can never be shut (and then you realize that you don't actually have eyelids, or an eye, and that what you see, in fact, is YOU...but that's for another day).
But, I digress.
My point is this: when you find yourself shaken, going crazy, overwhelmed or sad or swallowed by insecurity, this, too, is yoga. Be present with it. Breathe with it. Feel your feelings and know that you are not (no, really, you're not) your thoughts.
This is the true rhythm of life - to get shaken up, stirred about, frustrated, upset, sad and heartbroken - and to emerge stronger. Reborn. Things will hopefully go really well for awhile and then it will repeat. This cycle of birth, growth, expansion, destruction, death and rebirth is what we practice every day in a physical way. Yoga mirrors life and life mirrors yoga. As we pass each threshold, a new one awaits. As we shed little pieces of ourselves we become stronger in mind and body. You may not notice it on a daily level. Your mindset, relationships, and even pant size won't change drastically overnight if you're doing it right. Sustainable change and progress is slow. That's a GOOD thing! This isn't about learning grit, it's about learning resillience. And about learning to trust the practice.