Sometimes the universe sends us messages. Lately I’ve been reminded—from different sources—of the importance of steady, uninterrupted practice of yoga. Not uninterrupted as in practicing for an hour with no breaks; more like practicing for 10 years without missing a day. Teachers have mentioned it in class, I’ve read it in books and blogs, and my own random thoughts keep coming back to this simple message: to get any real benefit from yoga and to make any progress, you must have a regular, consistent practice. The practice must not be subject to whims of the moment, changes in schedule, fleeting desires or impulses. The point of yoga is control of the mind — training the mind to be content whether or not our desired are fulfilled. That training begins with stepping on the mat each day, no matter what.
This is not to say that my practice is totally inconsistent. I’ve been fairly steady for several years. But if I don’t keep an eye on it, it’s easy to let things slide. And my life is so unstructured that it can be difficult to maintain a regular schedule. Plus, the mind is lazy. It will find any opportunity to avoid work. Eventually, I realized that the most important aspect of my practice right now is discipline (Tapas). I just can’t handle the free-wheeling-do-whatever-feels-right yoga practice. Because what feels right is usually a nap! With that in mind, I came back to Ashtanga in December after some time away (due to injury, uncertainty, and exploration) and I’m working my way through the Primary Series. Most days I’m doing Half Primary (to Navasana); some days I do Full Primary and some days I just do the Suryas, Standing and Finishing. On the very worst days, I just do 5 Surya A and 5 Surya B and the 3 closing poses. While the mind remains lazy, I find that working methodically through the series helps to keep me on track and on the mat.
The next step will be to return to practice with a teacher. I’m still building stamina and consistency, but soon I’ll take my practice to a Mysore class and begin refining my practice. For now, though, I’m happy to be where I am.