Cleaning up your practice.


Home practice in a snow storm. My mind wasn’t on the snow, the cold, the dogs trying to join in, but on trying to just be there, on not losing focus, not fidgeting, psyching myself with the mantra that tomorrow is a full moon and I won’t be on the mat. I used background music too. Blasphemy, I know, haha. A YouTube link of the XX Intro put into a four hour loop. No worries, I’m comfortable enough at this stage to use an extra boost at home to block out the house noises, when I need it, and today I did. How do you decide when it’s okay to break the rules?

A few years ago, I used to do this little “cheat” in the second to last asana of primary, urdhva muckha paschimottanasana. Instead of keeping hold of my arches or heels on the way up, I’d let my hands slip off slightly and reconnect once I was balanced on my sit bones. The momentum was hard for me to master in keeping hold of my heels, I was my usual overzealous self and went too far, therefore crashing, if I kept my feet. My teacher was annoyed I wasn’t really making much of an effort to fix it beyond where I was and finally said in exasperation to me, ” it’s your practice, you have to decide what that means”.

About a week later I was away in Washington DC with my family, there are a plethora of great Ashtanga teachers there, and I was recommended to Astanga yoga studio DC. Keith Moore runs the program beautifully and was quite welcoming in his charming and bustling studio during those wee morning hours. As I came up in my cheat and then pulled myself in towards my legs, Keith came by and whispered to me, ” don’t worry, no one saw that”, with a chuckle. I laughed too, but kept going…I hadn’t reached the split yet in intermediate so my mind was on more frightening prospects like kapo and my not always there yet, coming up properly from drop backs.

In any case, though I enjoyed my spring time weekend in DC, my mind was ruminating these two thoughts, the comedy of my obvious incorrect method, and the mindset that this was my practice, for better or worse, mine, no one else was going to do it for me regardless of my marionette fantasies where I’m on strings while some other guiding force brings me into an asana. Those moments when I’ve forgotten that the journey there, is what matters most. I had to crash to find my balance, so I did, crash that is.

I came home with a new determination and decided who cares how noisy it is, or if I fail, I’m going to figure this out. I had done it before, but not with consistency, so that was the goal, work to find the sweet spot of balance and proper breath in timing my inhale. I knew I shouldn’t make myself crazy over it, so I gave it the three times a charm rule, try it three times, if you don’t succeed, tomorrow is another day, another opportunity. The funny part was that though I still can occasionally have that day of primary where it just doesn’t work, it only took about a week or so to get it, because it was really already there, I just hadn’t been willing to believe it yet, or be willing to deal with a few more bumps on the path.

Patience, time, breath, trust and sweat equals magic.

I’m right behind Sharath…a few weeks later, correct method:)


2 thoughts on “Cleaning up your practice.

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