I have considered the benefit of asana (yoga postures) for quite some time. I think I have been doing it long enough to see it evolve not only in the Houston community but in my own personal practice. I am so very grateful for the physical practice of yoga, specifically Ashtanga Yoga. I’m not sure I would have been so intrigued without it. However the sustainability of such a rigorous workout was clearly not in the cards for me. Thankfully, in the depths of all the jump backs, jump throughs and sweat, a seed was planted. I giggle a little bit when I think about how I had to wear myself out to hear what the teachers and philosophy were actually saying, which boils down to something like this: It’s not the posture that is the practice, but who you have to be to master it.
I was determined, dedicated, and persistent. When I failed, I was humbled, and met my ego Head-on, and not very gracefully, I may add. Deeper still was more magic; because in those moments when my expectations didn’t meet the reality of my body’s capability, I finally heard my inner dialogue. I was surprised at how cruel I could be. A tone and language that would have compelled me to intervene, had I heard it externally.
How do I begin to change that pattern? Having children helped a great deal in working it out. I watched them try new things and struggle, and for them I was encouraging and supportive. When they were upset with themselves, I showed them compassion. It finally dawned on me years later that it was the key to my own struggle with my inner dialogue. In the space between my expectations and reality, sprinkle compassion and encouragement.
My practice is a far cry from the rigor of Ashtanga yoga, but I feel it’s just as powerful. The functional movement on my mat now is like an investment in my future self. My body feels good, the shoulder and back pain of my early days rarely surface, and my mind and I seem to have found some common ground. The compassion and encouragement I share with others seems more sincere because I have recognized my own struggle. When I see yogis nail a handstand or master a difficult pose and it ends up on social media, I hope they one day look back at the photos without lamenting physical prowess of days past, but to discover the magic behind Adho Mukha Vksasana, which is in its essence, Yoga.