One of my prayers, for a while now, which I quietly say to myself before I start my practice, is to surrender to the process that is yoga. Over the years, my relationship to my own practice has been defined by this intention, not only in the act of surrendering, but also in understanding that practice is a process, that yoga is an on-going journey of discovery, there is light and peace there, but that these moments of calm are sometimes hard fought. There will often be discomfort, sometimes pain, before seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and just when you think you’ve cleared the dark patches, you often find there’s more, there’s always another tunnel, with the faint light ahead once again beckoning you.
I often see students perturbed when they start to experience the difficulties that come up with the yoga practice. There’s the expectation that the goal of yoga, peace of mind, the balance between robustness and restfulness of body, is easily available. I wish that were true.
Our āsana–literally, “seat” or posture–practice is designed to give us opportunities to experience life on our mats, a mere metaphor for life-at-large, as fully as possible, with more presence, more awareness. The magic of our practice is in its truthfulness and practicality. The peace is real, as are the hardships. The daily practice helps us acknowledge the relationship between them both. From there, we learn to accept that the ebb and flow go hand-in-hand, and with this life/practice gets easier. Peace is the soft side of the hard coin.
The practice inevitably brings us to our edge, what we often perceive as our breaking point, which is really the tight space that inspires growth. We can run from it, many often do. The best thing to do, I think, however, is to stick with it, to continue to practice. In difficulty we must also sit, and breathe, waiting for that moment to pass into lightness.
Photo: Full house for Led Primary class this last Friday at Nūn Center. Students find their moment of calm at padmasana, one of the closing postures.