Creating your ideal yoga practice
Creation requires an overcoming of the initial resistance we all feel to change. I am very familiar with that time-waster called procrastination. Why, since I’ve started this book, I must have re-arranged my wardrobe at least five times, have had endless meaningful chats with the lovely lady who makes my take-away coffees, and have for the first time ever established an impeccable order in my bookshelves! All in order to get away from the actuality of what I have really set out to do – write this book. Giving birth to anything new, especially when we really care about it, brings with it an army of resistance, and can be a very painful process indeed. How then can you cultivate the initiative, confidence and enthusiasm to start designing and doing your ideal yoga practice?
Once I had fully recognised that I’d be better off with an individualised and varying Quantum practice, it still took me a long time to make spontaneous, intelligent and joyful creation in yoga a regular occurrence. I’d hesitantly step onto the mat, having decided that today I will really tune in and see what comes up. Nothing much would come up, except thoughts pertaining to what else I could be doing with my time. So I would either punish myself by rigorously defaulting back to a well-known sequence, or give up and furiously do something else, knowing full well that I’d let myself down. When I had injuries, I would design a whole set of restorative exercises, but hardly ever get around to doing them. Also there always were difficult poses I yearned to master, but I didn’t know how to approach them if they were not part of the sequences I knew by heart.
The first step in changing this pattern was to set myself a time when I would start the practice and fix how long I would spend. This became a sacred time for that day, which no matter what was happening around me, I would spend on the mat. With regards to the yoga mat, I do sometimes practice without it, but I find that in the encounter of inner resistance it is useful to demarcate a sacred space. There would be days that I would struggle with such fierce demons that I would end up a shaking wreck huddled on my mat. However, I would not leave and the longer I sat with these self-denying thoughts and worked with this body that seemed totally unwilling to cooperate, the more constructive this conversation with myself became. Ultimately I believe that these seemingly “futile” times are just as useful as days when the practice just magically flows. It is just another form of sadhana, and when it comes to spiritual practice, as long as you approach it with an earnest and fervent heart, you are opening to grace.
There are ways however that you can avoid this kind of creative paralysis.
1) Start gently! Remember that Sublimatio is when you are feeling your way into your body. Cultivate “beginner’s mind”. Allow yourself to be child-like, innocently exploring your being as though it was the very first time. In this way you avoid pre-conceived notions of what you could or should be like and take yourself into the here and now. Santosha, one of Patanjali’s niyamas, is often translated as “contentment”, but to me it really indicates being with what is really there rather than projecting.