I have never known a practice like it. Everytime I am on my mat chanting the opening invocation of the Ashtanga practice followed by the Yoga Sutra’s that I’ve been reading the past couple of weeks, preparing my mind, focus and breath to begin the practice, I still find I have to take a deep moment to let my Self know that I am about to start.
Sometimes when you guys see the yoga photos posted by me, or anyone else out there, there isn’t the backstory most often in the caption that lets you know the state of mind of the person in the picture before, when, or after it was taken. I get this in class sometimes with poses that you might think seem ‘easy’ for me to do. Be assured, my calm face, is for me, part of the discipline of the yoga practice- to practice with a smile and a light heart (and a calm face where possible ) but I too am focussing deeply in, say, lifting the quadricep muscles above my knees to aid the stretch in my hamstrings in any of the forward folds, controlling the ‘plank-ness’ of my body when lowering in Chaturanga, and a gazillion other things during my practice.
Every bit most definitely requires all my focus – I think the only time I am totally relaxed is in Savasana! 😀 And even then I am focusing on stilling my body, stilling my mind. You must think I find the yoga practice easier and easier the more I do it, and perhaps this is your aim too with your practice. I am about to dispel the myth!! Oh no!! Haha. Well, I don’t think there is a definitive answer to this statement! It really depends what you think ‘getting easier’ means. I find the more I practice and the more I know, it’s more comparable to a computer game. It is like levels being unlocked the further you go on, rather than anything ‘getting easier’. I certainly don’t feel nothing or crunch through my Surya Namaskaras (Sun Salutations) with no resistance or effort. No way! Every morning I come to the mat is a new morning, a new challenge, a new hour and a half into the unknown awaiting me. I don’t always 100% know what to expect when I am standing on my mat about to begin. The yoga practice affects so much more than the physical body (and that is a minefield in itself) and cleanses and works on the mind and energies in the body that everyday really is a new day.
Yes, some things ‘become easier’ in the general way of how you would think of honing a skill. Say, your aim is to get your head to your knee when doing your Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold). Yes, over time, your head will slowly come to your knee. But easier? I don’t know if it can ever be called easy. As you get there, the next door unlocks. You start working to get your chin onto your leg now, and with this door unlocking, it too unlocks other doors in all the other forward folds where you slowly work on getting your knee to the leg too. And when that starts opening up to you, this again is a foundation to work off for other asanas in your practice. And when the full posture is doable, and you keep your regular practice to maintain this, which unlocks the next series in the Ashtanga practice to you, asana by asana. It is truly a lifetime of discovery to be had. So does it get easier.. I truly don’t think so! To say it is easy at any point would mean you think you’d be the Master of it. Can we be Masters of Yoga? For me, it’s a no as I see it as an endless journey of constantly being Teacher and Student always and simultaneously. To say you are a Master would crush the meaning and journey of Yoga which is to be shared, to take in to shed light on our Selves, to grow our Selves, but not to Master.
I have gone a little off tangent but hey this happens often on my ramblings I share this photo of Garbha Pindasana, or Embryo-in-the-womb posture (titled Garbha Pindasaouch, haha) as I am in so much concentration and putting in so much more effort than it looks like in the photo! I have been getting to Garbha P in my practice and approaching it like I’m about to reach the peak of the mountain.. with some trepidation, adrenaline and excitement all bundled in one. Will I be able to flex inwards today? How much friction will my arms encounter this time? The first time I tried this, I very much so compare it to giving birth to your own arms through your very tightly squashed immovable legs. The grunting is palpable. It had to do with learning how to look inward in my practice, to learn to flex the spine (rounding it) as I’ve talked about here! I then have to let the breath lead me backwards into rolling on my back up and down repeatedly all the way round till I come back to the original start position. My spine has definitely taken a Bruise Badge from this, but I now have garnered the secret of rolling instead on the muscles on either side of the spine! (I am working on this )
Anyway! My point of this pose was to express my gratitude for Ashtanga finding me again after many years. I truly know no practice like it, which continuously humbles, teaches and truly beats me down every single time. Haha. In a great, great way. When I’m at the end of my practice, I think ah wow, yet again, through the surrender I have to give to the practice in the doing of the asanas, I have again learnt so much about myself, about staying grounded and being humble always and always and always.