Society demands us to make huge efforts —although that’s not really true. It is not society as such that demands huge efforts but rather the education we have received. Making an effort at school, during our studies, at work, in our family life, with friendships… To illustrate my point, I’ll provide a real-life example: some of our yoga friends are preparing themselves for a position in the public system to thus guarantee a permanent job. Interestingly, the moment you meet them, you can easily see they are excellent professionals who love their jobs. Why do they have to do an extra effort to guarantee something they already love to do, do well and which moreover implies a service for others? Isn’t it ridiculous that the outcome of one exam is the key to guarantee a job they already dedicate themselves to passionately?
Maybe when we tell ourselves that we have to make an effort, what we actually mean is that we have to over-exert ourselves, something we should be careful about because it always ends up taking a toll.
There is no asana in yoga that involves over-exerting ourselves. If, at any time, we feel we are straining too much, we need to reconsider what we can improve to progress under better conditions. It could be a small adjustment in the hips, perhaps a calibration in the twist, perhaps balancing the weight towards the base foot… This is not to say that we don’t need to keep strengthening ourselves for the practice, because strength provides stability, stability provides confidence, and confidence is the grounding to confront challenges with creativity —those challenges we find in our practice as well as in our daily life.
But then, where is the effort in yoga? Well, it turns out it is mostly present before the practice. There is effort in the practice too, of course; but I think we can agree that, in our practice, and even more so at the end of it, we feel a pleasant sensation of gratitude towards it. The effort, therefore, happens before —to keep practicing, especially on these days when spring dazes us with its beautiful explosion of nature making us just that little bit lazier.
Time to put a smile on, make a bit of an effort and keep practicing!
April 8, 2019.