One key quality for the yoga student to develop is a sense of patience in practice.
Somehow, in our fast-paced, goal-oriented society, we easily forget
about the process of practice and have begun to classify even yoga as
something we must successfully accomplish.
Not only do we want to succeed at this practice, but we want to nail
every pose and every breath at the exact right moment, the first time
and every time thereafter.
But yoga, like most things in life, isn't about how
far we advance on the mat or into a pose, and there is never a need to
bring a hurried or competitive sense to the experience. The postures
are useful and beneficial for a myriad of reasons, but more important are the small and large shifts that can occur in our deeper layers of being
when we offer some of our time to practice. The nudge into a more
expanded consciousness, subtle transformation of character, gentle
assimilation of ideas and increased broadening of awareness that occur
are the real markers of progress in yoga, and these things take at least
as much time as loosening up tight hip flexors, so the rushed mentality
is one that we can drop.
Yoga is always about practice, not perfection .
It is what happens on the way to each posture, throughout the journey
of patience, that counts in this realm. Surprisingly, some of the most
profound bits of progress for the yogi(ni) may even happen after the mat
has been rolled up and put away. The nice thing about consistent yoga
practice is that it continues to give its gifts, even when we are no
longer reaching for them. No one minds if you cannot touch your toes. Those
who approach a yoga practice with non-judgmental dedication will
certainly be transformed, and sometimes in the most unexpected moments
after many seemingly-uneventful times of enduring practice.
Patience asks that we do not look towards
some bigger, better, more impressive version of a posture, our
circumstances or ourselves, but that we acknowledge, accept and embrace
what is, now.
I have heard the saying, "Practice makes Perfect," but I will
be the first to admit that I rarely have a day or a mat-session without
at least a few mishaps. Sometimes the mind fluxes. The
heart races. The body tenses up and our emotions fool us into thinking
that if we could only know, reach or achieve something today, then tomorrow will certainly contain the better future we have been longing for. Maybe instead of striving for perfection, having patience in practice is a better goal.
Ranier Marie Rilke urges us, "Be patient toward all that is
unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like
locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign
tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given
you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to
live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then
gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the
Practice like this. One day at a time. One mat session at a
time. Living, breathing, patiently experiencing each stumble and
success along the way and allowing life to continue to unfold.