What I have learnt from not practicing
Actualizado: 29 de abr de 2020
I have heard that famous quote by Patthabi Jois so many times: ‘Practice and all is coming’. I have repeated it like a mantra and now I’m saying the right opposite. I don’t know if I’m cheating or giving up. I guess all is not coming. Maybe not all, but some definitely is. There is so much to do, and some things are supposed to be done outside the yoga mat. What if not practicing was, in a way, a means to practice? But don’t get too comfy, the path of not practicing can also be a bumpy road!
I would like to share with you what has inspired me to refashion my practice in the last twelve months. A year where I have had to face many challenges and where for a good part, I just couldn’t keep up with the practice I had worked so hard to build. Possibly a little too hard. I don’t think practicing should feel like a struggle. So if it does, it may be time for you to let go of it and recentre.
I truly believe yoga is for everyone, but can you imagine an elderly person or someone who just got out of surgery to practice the same like a healthy young and passionate yogi? Why should these circumstances prevent them from getting the benefits of the practice? The secret is to mold the yoga practice to the reality that you are living. What a great opportunity to learn how to be here now That’s what yoga is all about!
Here is what I have learnt from rolling the mat and setting it aside:
Learn about acceptance – fighting against the natural flow of things is exhausting and it only takes you nowhere fast. Stop, practice how to be grounded and be grateful for the things that you have been blessed with in your life. For more information, check about santosha in the Yoga Sutras.
Acknowledge where you are in your path – there is a lesson in everything. If you have been presented with a challenge in your life, ask yourself what you can learn from it. It’s all a matter of attitude. It doesn’t matter how far you get in your path, but what you become while walking it.
Find other ways to practice – this is an easy one. Meditate, read inspiring books, do pranayama. I started learning to play the harmonium and it brought me so much joy. Find what brings joy to you personally. It might be exploring your creative side or changing the way you look at things. Only you can really know what is best for you!
Find inspiration in simple everyday life things – preparing a healthy meal, taking a slow walk on your own, your dog or a friend, enjoying the fact of resting. Take that little bit of peace from mundane things. This will help you feel more in tune with the moment.
Be amazed by what you can actually do after a break – you will be surprised to see how much your body can store. The practice you did in the past will be reflected in what you do in the future, so don’t beat yourself up. You’ll be back in track sooner than you think.
Understand better why you practice – do you want to master that impossible pose? Do you want to be fit? Do you want to show off how cool yoga is? I think these facts are side effects of the practice, but the real goal doesn’t need to be physical. There is a hidden effect that can’t be quantified and in fact the most substantial one. Yoga is a spiritual journey. Use your break to tap into the deeper realm of it.
Discard harmful attitudes – you still haven’t managed that impossible pose but you keep pushing your limits? Think twice! Injuries are a real deal (another lesson, yeah!) and the sooner you learn to be love yourself, the healthier you’ll be.
Be more human – so what if you don’t ever achieve that impossible pose? What if you don’t find samadhi in this lifetime? It’s ok! You are only human, you don’t have to be perfect. It is what you do on the way what counts, not if you reached the ultimate goal.
Learn about compassion – can you hear ‘lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu’ ringing in your ears? Yes! May all beings be free and happy. Please, don’t forget that this applies to you too! If a rest is going to help you, don’t feel guilty about it! You’ll be losing the whole point of taking it.
Rediscover your love for your practice – after a break in your practice, you’ll come back with renewed passion. It’s like seeing the person you love after a very long time. Long distance relationship, thank you for teaching me that!
Believe that if you are honest about your practice, it will be back – finally, trust your practice. When you really want something, the universe will plot to make it happen.
But the biggest lesson I have learnt is the following one. I came across it during my Yin Yoga teacher training, where our teacher said that the final goal of all yoga practice is to stop striving. It sounds magical, doesn’t it? The secret to come closer to your true Self, real happiness and inner peace is to stop trying so hard. When you struggle so much, you disconnect from the moment. You only live the difficulties of the present. You get lost in the future, in expectations and desires. We lose touch with our feelings and emotions and we miss the opportunity to learn from them and from the moment that brought them into being. So, don’t be scared to put your physical practice aside in your routine. You must practice for yourself, not to prove anything to anyone. If you manage to let this go, you’ll live more in the moment.