I’ve been practicing asana 12 (13?) years now, which is a reasonable amount of time, and I look forward to many more. I am currently reflecting on the massive changes that have taken place in my life since I begun practicing. @christinasell once said something about how when we first begin an asana practice, there are incredible, large shifts in who we are and how our bodies work. Then as we practice longer, there are fewer changes and / or things may even get worse (forgive me Christina if I got that wrong). I interpret “worse” as meaning that we have a better understanding of what clarity in our movement and our minds is, and can spot it when we don’t have it. Which sometimes causes suffering, when we can’t detach from something as the Yoga Sutra remind us to. Whereas in the early days of our practice, everything brought more clarity. Just moving your body and understanding where you were putting your foot brought clarity. And if you have a sustained practice of 5 years or more, you made progress on the path, either through asana or another aspect of the yoga practice, and that’s why you’re still practicing. And now you have an ability to understand exactly what isn’t necessarily happening for you to make Mayurasana work, or whatever asana it is that challenges you. And you have decided to make better lifestyle choices, and that has alienated you from a group of friends who were your core confidants. Or any number of other things. As my friend and colleague in teaching @staceymoves says, “Yoga ruined my life” (tongue in cheek, of course).
I suppose I’m recognizing that sometimes, the clarity isn’t fun. Or the clarity goes away. Maybe you fall out of love with asana, and it’s a chore to get on your mat. Or you don’t want to give up relationships that aren’t serving you. Or you don’t feel like you’re making the kind of progress you “should” be as a practitioner or teacher. What I’m hoping to remind you of is that you’ve made a ridiculous amount of progress, and that you’re a warrior of the best kind. The warrior that stands for being better, for being kinder, for understanding the impact choices make on yourself and others around you. I’m reminding you to remind myself, because I know that life sometimes gets in the way of remembering that your hard work is paying off. It’s paying off in remembering (one in three times) to pause before shooting off that thing you’ll regret saying later. It’s paying off in ordering the food that has less impact on the planet and your consciousness. It’s paying off in smiling at strangers.
The key is to keep coming back to the practice. Again and again. And again. And to attempt to detach from the results of your practice while at the same time acknowledging yourself for simply doing the work.