"Do your practice and all is coming." We have likely all heard the famous quote from Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga yoga.
While it is one of my favourite yoga quotes now, at first it did not quite resonate with me or, more precisely, I was unable to reflect it in my own practice. It seemed too general to be helpful as a reference point in developing my yoga practice, lacking the precision that I felt that I was needing. Practice what? Practice how? What is coming?
Often, students of yoga have a particular pose in mind that they want to master. They ask their teachers and search social media on what to practice to prepare for those advanced, awe-inspiring asanas - Handstand, Flag Pose, One Legged Crow, Splits. While it is possible to develop certain physical and even mental qualities with a targeted practice, my personal advice nowadays would nevertheless be just to practice. Mindfully, regularly and without attachment to any particular pose nor avoidance of any types of posture – like “I am terrible at back bends, I’ll just skip those”. It may sound boring and a little too unprecise but it works! You will eventually get the asana and even more, as practising in this way has positive effects on the mind as well.
It is like a miracle! I have witnessed it time and again, both personally and by watching my yogi friends and students. The joy and astonishment of nailing a challenging pose for the first time! The casual attempt that turns into success. The gratitude, the rush of energy, the urge to share it with your yogi friends or teacher, not to boast about it but to celebrate it. The humble contentment calling for support and channelling inspiration instead of envy. Without attachment the once coveted asana is like a gift, not a prize. A gift that cultivates gratitude rather than a prize that fuels the ego. “Thank you” vs. “I earned it with my hard work”, see the difference?
Trust the transformational power of your practice. Let go of the target pose. Showing up on the mat on a regular basis to practice mindfully and without attachment to the outcome will take you forward holistically in your yoga journey, no matter what. Enjoy the ride!
Join Johanna for Hatha Flow every Wednesday night 7pm at Outta Hatha.
Photo credit: Esther Tay