Something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is the quality of my practice. In yoga, we are often taught that all we need to do is show up. I first heard this from a teacher a few years ago when she started the class by saying how happy she was that we all made it to our mats that day- that we decided to show up. She’d been struggling with her own practice recently- certain poses that used to be easy suddenly felt hard and she felt tired and frustrated. I could relate. I think we all probably have days where we don’t feel like practicing, or something that came easily yesterday feels impossible today. However, what struck me about her story is what she said next: “These are the days that are the most important to show up.”
One of the Sutras that I’ve recently fallen in love with is in Book One, Sutra 14:
“Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time and in all earnestness.”
Since beginning the teacher training I’ve had many days where, in the past, I may have skipped my practice due to soreness or being tired or not wanting to deal with traffic or a million other reasons I could come up with. I no longer have this option. If I skip practice one day, I will have to make it up the next and those skipped classes can start adding up really quickly. Also, how will my practice become firmly grounded if I’m always skipping it? I am trying to be more disciplined. It is not just about showing up and going through the physical asanas, but being mentally present as well. I am 100% guilty of going through my to-do list during Vinyasa or thinking about the slice of pizza I’m going to eat once class is done… But then am I really practicing in all earnestness?
It’s easy enough to show up and go through the physical motions, but what is my intention? I was in a class the other night and found myself feeling annoyed by the pose we were in, which led to me feeling annoyed by the teacher for making us sit in this pose for so long and as I started to let myself get irritated and fidgety, this sutra popped into my brain. I took a deep breath and asked myself, Am I present? Am I practicing in all earnestness? What about this pose is bothering me so much? I then continued to put my focus on my breath, on the room, on the energy I was bringing into the space… next thing I knew I wasn’t thinking about how much I hated the pose, I had actually sunk deep into it and into a meditative state. Moments like these are huge for me. Learning what showing up really means and allowing myself that space is truly freeing- however difficult it may be to get there at times.
As I unpack the meaning of this sutra, I find it seeping into my daily practice more and more. I’ve started challenging myself to really commit to it and make it my mantra. Yoga is not easy- despite all those perfect poses you see on Instagram. It takes time and dedication and patience to have a good practice and the physical aspect is only one step on the journey. My hope is that if I keep attending to my practice with discipline and in all earnestness that this same care and attention will make it’s way into my life off the mat as well.