I got a very helpful adjustment in class today that made me think about my yoga practice and my life. “Keep moving your muscles throughout the entire posture,” the teacher said, “otherwise you are just putting your body into a shape.” My attention snapped back to class — I have to admit that my mind was wandering at that particular moment. But this got me thinking — had she simply caught me in a lazy moment or was my practice becoming routine? Was I just putting my body into shapes or was I practicing yoga? One of my favorite yoga teachers often warned her more seasoned students, “Regular students should try not to become robotic. They know the practice, so they stop listening to the dialogue. The dialogue is the key to the practice. If you listen to the words and do what you hear, you will go further into your postures.” Was this happening to me? Was I becoming robotic?
Upon further reflection, I was relieved to conclude that it is not as bad as all that. I am still pushing myself in the postures, and working to maintain my focus and energy throughout my practice. I continue to find challenge and new details to explore in the various asanas. I do think of the postures as a journey rather than as an end result. BUT, it was a good wake up call and an important reminder about how easy it is to lose focus and intensity about something that is a regular part of our daily life. How easy it would be to think of asanas like static shapes that we need to mimic, rather than like living and breathing postures that we actively experience and explore.
This concept applies not only to yoga, but to life more generally. We all know how easy it is to take the things that matter to us most for granted. In fact, it is often our most important relationships and activities that we forget to nurture, because we believe we will have numerous opportunities to do so. We need to remember that even when we take the shape of a happy family or a loving relationship, there is always more to experience and explore. And the more we give, the more we will receive in return. Life, like yoga, is a constantly unfolding posture, not a static shape.
Readers, how do you keep your practice from becoming static?