I know I say this every week, but it really does get harder every week. I was really grateful to have some extra time to focus on my practice this week. I was expecting this time to be spent playing with handstands and working my hip mobility and shoulder girdle strength in order to improve my struggle pose… Dwi Pada Sirsasana. Instead, I spent a lot of time doing some internal work, which included a little bit of crying/feeling sorry for myself followed by a lot of sutra study, journaling, meditation, and gratitude practice.
I showed up to Mysore practice on Tuesday with a sore back and a sour attitude. I pretty much half-assed the first half of my practice and somehow expected my body to be prepared for the second half, which includes some insanely deep backbends and hip openers. I made it to Kapotasana and then broke down in tears. The pain in my lower back, which is due to my body adjusting to putting both my legs behind my head, was overbearing. My teacher recommended that I close my practice for the day and practice primary series for the next few days.
I was pissed, but she was right. I practiced primary series on Wednesday and Thursday and focused on breath and Mula Bandha engagement the entire time. I meditated and studied the sutras. I didn’t practice handstands. I let go of my ego and my attachment to the physical part of my practice. It was healing both mentally and physically. I felt more grounded; my attitude changed; my pain eased.
“Abhyasa Vairaghyabhyam Tannirodhah (Yoga Sutra 1.12): Practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of consciousness.” – B.K.S. Iyengar; Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Studying this sutra in particular reminded me that detachment to our practice is just as important as the practice itself. Cultivating detachment in our yogic practice strengthens our mentality so that we can attain detachment and freedom from our wordly desires. By continually making an effort to understand how the art and philosophy of yoga aligns with our body, mind, and soul, we come to understand that this is not so much a physical practice, but a spiritual one.
On Friday, my intention for practice was to maintain focused breath and careful bandha engagement. I didn’t shame myself for not doing my “best” practice. Instead, I thanked my body for each posture it was able to perform. Through this method, I was able to do all of my second series poses. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as grateful in my yoga practice as I did when I grabbed my second heel in Kapotasana that day; it was like doing it for the very first time all over again. It made me realize how much expectation I put on myself to perform these ridiculous asanas on the daily and how little appreciation I show myself when I do them. Then, when I can’t do them, I beat myself up.
I am changing that. This week, I will give myself credit for showing up. I will find gratitude for what I can do each day, but I will expect absolutely nothing. I will take this attitude of no expectation and total appreciation out into the world. I will own my practice every day–good or bad–no matter what. More next week…