Sunday, January 06, 2008

Be content


All Is One, originally uploaded by Stephen J Phillips



New year, new beginnings, right?
I have signed myself up for Nischala Joy Devi’s Free Weekly Sutra emails. I quite like seeing what her take on the YS is, as compared to the version I usually consult, TKV Desikachar’s.

Her version on Sutra 1.2, 'Yogascittavrttinirodha' is :

Yoga is the Uniting of Consciousness in the Heart

The past few weeks, I have had occasion(s) to notice just how far our practice of yoga sometimes strays from this intention. For example, grading yoga classes into ‘beginner’, ‘advanced’ and so on. How on earth did we get the idea that you are an advanced yogi if you can do certain poses? I won’t even call them difficult, because there will always be some people who find them easy, some who don’t. Does this mean that a former gymnast who is able to contort more than a normal Joe Shmoe is automatically a more advanced yogi? No no no.

Seriously people, refusing a 50-something woman admission to your advanced class because she can’t do chaturanga 'well enough' is not yogic. Call the class something else. Arm balance or strength, maybe. But if that woman is able to sit quietly with her breath, and sometimes, unite her mind and her heart, she is well on her way to being an advanced yogi. Madam Indra Devi practiced yoga postures until just before her death, and I can tell you she wasn’t doing chaturanga, or bakasana. And nobody could question her advanced status as a yogi.

It can be useful to have physical goals in your asana practice, as it is a way to keep you enthusiastic and coming to your mat every day, and achieving those goals can be liberating and exciting. Stella put this beautifully in her post about achieving handstand. But. The asanas are a tool on our way to yoga, one of the EIGHT limbs of yoga practice. Just one of eight. Not the everything. Not the goal.

So, this year, give yourself a gift – be content with where you are in you practice right now. And grateful that you can practice. Every day maybe? Hee hee.

9 comments:

rand(om) bites said...

This is a great timely reminder for me Nadine, thank you. You always seem to hit the nail on the head for me :-) x

Anonymous said...

Hi, Nadine, it was nice to read your entry today because I must confess: I can't do Headstand. Just can't. My neck aches and it's something I just can't do.I sometimes feel embarassed by that and I admire those who can do it with such ease.But I enjoy my practice even without it.I may be missing something important but it's ok.
Ivete

Everyday Yogini said...

Amen, amen and amen to that! A beautifully written post, Nadine!

shula said...

Totally with you on this one.

I know of a woman who was refused a teacher's certificate because she was carrying too much weight around her middle. She didn't look the part.

She'd had six kids.

Cupcakes & Yoga said...

Very well said (as always)! Every practice our bodies can do something different. One day I can do chaturanga while the next day, my back might be too tired and I can't do it. It doesn't change my practice any. Some people just have their priority backward.

YogaDawg said...

Thanks Nadine, I agree with the other posters; to the degree that you can bend and bind is in no way an indication on how far you are on to the path to enlightenment.

Laura said...

What a great thought! I couldn't agree more. I am quite sure one can have a thoroughly "advanced" yoga practice without head stand or chaturanga...We often forget what yoga is really about...

skelly said...

very well said

Marya said...

Love this - thanks! BTW, how do you find the sign up for Nischala's sutra e-mail? I would love that too.