The ebb and flow of Practice
Updated: Jun 12, 2020
A student recently reached out to me saying she had been feeling low.
Before she continues I interrupted her and asked :
“How is your practice going ?”
I have learnt through experience that we, humans, sometimes lie (intentionally or not) about our feelings. Too often I found myself wrapped up in a thick fog, completely out of touch with myself. It is so easy to fall out of resonance within yourself and with the world.
At times when there is confusion, when I don’t really know how I feel or why I feel a certain way I always look at the state of my practice.
Your practice will always reveal the truth. Your practice simply cannot lie, it will reflect exactly the state of your inside.
How often have you got on your mat thinking all was fine and beautiful but a few minutes later you find yourself in a posture, frustrated, bursting out with emotions that you did not suspect resided in you ? I have, so often.
This, is the beauty of practice. But you must be ready for it. A practice is not necessarily a pleasant thing, it is neutral by nature. It holds a mirror to your face and speaks out your truth. Out loud.
As you sharpen your ability to listen, your entire body becomes a source of precious information on how you truly feel. Tensions in the physical body might correspond to emotional blockages while the quality of your breath will reflect the state of your mind. Afterall, Yoga in Sanskrit means “ to yoke” and it is within the space of your practice that all aspects of you will meet and merge into one.
Because of its truthful quality there are days when we do not feel like practising. We know it is good for us, we remember the incomparable post-practice feeling of bliss, yet we are stuck with a voice that holds us back, away from the mat. Abhyasa is our commitment, the effort we make to practice every day. It implies dedication, discipline and a strong will regardless on circumstances. It is about showing up for your practice with the highest quality of presence.
As Patanjali mentions in the Sutras, it is through the practice of both Abhyasa and Vairagyam in equal measure, that the yogi will be able to access the state of Nirodha, the stillness of the mind.
Vairagyam is our ability to “let go”, to detach ourselves from the practice and the fruits of the practice. It is about finding balance between wanting to practice without needing to practice. It is about honouring our practice while allowing it to dissolve, so that all is left is you, merging with the Infinite ocean of Oneness.
You do not have to practice, you do it because you deeply want to be free from all that keeps you away from your true Nature. You practice without expectation of yourself or the practice - you practice because it makes you feel alive.
You are only trying to embrace and unify all aspects of you with both efforts and surrender.
So how do you measure the efficiency of your practice ?
By looking at every aspect of your life, off the mat. Your practice is a learning space, where you get to explore, try things out; a place where you rise, fall and start all over again. But what is the value of a practice if it is not applied into the “real” world ?
See for yourself, do you feel calmer ? More stable ? Are you a better listener, a better talker ? Can you keep your equanimity even in times of chaos ?
Is your energy high but contained or does it seem out of your control ? Is your body lively, spacious, stronger ? Are your relationships healthier ?
Overall, do you feel more alive ?
When a practice is efficient it will inevitably melt the edges of your mat and things in life will start to shift. But if you have been practising for a while and haven’t noticed any difference it does not mean practising yoga isn’t for you.
It is only informing you that you need to make a change in what you practice or how you practice so that it fills your needs and helps you evolve. Whether it is Asanas or Meditation our practice is here to add to our lives, to better ourselves so that we can thrive in the human world.
It is your practice, your sacred space, the place where you get to remember your true nature, that of Peace, uninterrupted Joy and unconditional Love.
Let it take you home,