The journey of yoga practice is a journey with no end. There is no finishing point today, tomorrow, or years down the road. There is no prize for the best half-moon or the most balanced crow pose or for how many days you practiced this week. In fact, the prize, in yoga, is the process of shift that happens with each new practice, each new day.
Yoga allows for subtle shifts as well as for ground-breaking realizations about your body, mind, and spirit. There is no set time-frame for when these shifts happen, and there’s no exam at the end that confirms your skills in advanced asanas. Instead, know that the process is called, “yoga practice,” not “yoga perfect” for a reason. As a matter of fact, your practice most often ebbs and flows. Each new practice is never quite like the previous one. For example, some days you may feel like coming into wheel pose is an absolute impossibility, and other times you may feel no power or benefit in Warrior One. During these moments, you may even doubt that shift can happen, or you may think that your regressing rather than advancing. Yet, in these moments of doubt, what is most important is that you know that the true power is in what you’re learning about your body’s communication with your mind.
Five Ways to Find Beauty in the Process:
1. Know that there are no limits to how far you can go in a pose: there is always more space to explore a pose, even if you feel you’ve mastered it. Try checking in with your breathing or checking in with your True North. Are you present in the pose, or are you just going through the motions?
2. Know that there is no goal to achieve or test of your ability in yoga: believing that you must be perfect in each pose can lead to frustration or injury. Know that your body tells you what it needs and listen to it, even if the need is different than yesterday or different than tomorrow.
3. Use the posture as a tool to explore the body: ask yourself what feels invigorating, and go there. Ask yourself if you could go a little further, and go there. Drop your ego and explore what is naturally happening in the moment.
4. Trust the Natural Order of things: your ego, sometimes, can push you too hard right out of the gate. You might be thinking that you must get it right the first time or that you should be able to balance in tree-pose right away. Yet, reflect on the process of the butterfly. Each butterfly begins as an egg, transitions to a caterpillar, envelopes into a chrysalis, and then transforms into a beautiful winged creature. The natural course is not rushed, skipped, or dismissed. The butterfly is beautiful because of the process, and without the process, there is no butterfly. Sometimes your yoga practice can be messy; sometimes you may feel like nothing is happening, but know that shift is happening.
5. Know that sometimes results are not always visible: Each day your practice brings new things, and every fraction of an inch is meaningful. Know that small shifts can lead to ground-breaking changes in your life. Take one step-at-a-time, and rewards will come to you.