The sweetness of discipline

"True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline." –Mortimer J. Adler

Yoga, as a practice, requires discipline

I have maintained a consistent yoga practice since I took my first class in December of 2010 with the brief exception of this year when I had pneumonia. It took me 4 years before I was ready to surrender to the discipline of a daily practice. All I can tell you is that it is one of the sweetest, most nourishing and exciting gifts that I have ever offered myself. When you practice 3-5 days a week, you can get around the days that you are stressed, tired, sore, busy, emotional, etc. The practice holds up a mirror to whatever is going on inside of us and one of the many benefits of a daily practice is that you have no choice but to face, befriend and breathe through each of these fluctuating mental and physical states. Every day the ego must die a small death. I feel it as it is happening. And on the other side is space and freedom.

As I am sure many instructors can relate, it can be difficult to find the energy and time for our own practice on the days when lour teaching schedule is full. But to me my practice is non-negotiable and so I book it into my day just like I book all of my other appointments. Yesterday I had the 200 hour TTS from 9:30-11:30, scheduled my practice from 12-2, I had a private at 3 and group classes at 5 and 6:30.  When I stepped into the Mysore room, I could feel the resistance rise to the surface. I injured my right pec earlier in the week, it was tender, and I felt the need to round and protect.  I was hungry even from my first few sun salutations. And I was emotional with grief.  I didn’t think I could make it through. I cried during my first few backbends thinking of Paul. But on the other side of those tears came the most incredible burst of inspiration and a new depth of surrender. I felt the sweetness of the love that remains inside of me even though he is gone and all of a sudden I just knew I was going for it when it came time for dropbacks.  When I least expected it, the energy and the motivation came rushing in.  I still am not ready to do dropbacks on my own but it was a beautiful moment for me out in the Shala playground with Ana and Carol both of whom I love so much.  AS Ana said, “this is why we practice.  It’s medicine for the heart.”  A daily practice is a powerful method by which we are forced to acknowledge ourselves, to recognize where we are resisting life, and to breathe through it as we allow those resistances to dissolve. You may feel nausea cresting inside of you as you go deeper into backbending but like a wave it will break. You may feel creaky and stiff like an old floorboard in your first fold into uttanasana, but you will loosen. I have more to say but it’s time for my practice!