I asked my class last night what they had learned, if anything, from the Yoga Challenge.
I got blank stares.
“Are you getting any better at yoga?” I asked
Then they started pointing to defined biceps, and saying how they could finally do a Chaturanga, and hold plank without their arms quivering like jello.
The other day someone said they got their head to their knee for the first time in seated forward fold. Another person said that they touched their nose to the floor in Upavista Konasana (wide-angle seated forward fold.)
I was so happy for them! I know what it feels like to make progress in a posture, to finally be able to go up in Crow, or to extend the leg out fully in Padagustasana. It’s a trip! You want to show people. You want to say: “Look! Watch me cross my ankles behind my head and bind behind my back!”(Yoga Nidrasana)
But the funny thing is, as soon as you are able to do a difficult posture, you realize:
1. There are hundreds of difficult postures yet to master,
2. Mastering the postures isn’t the point.
True enlightenment in yoga comes the day you realize that it’s okay to suck at yoga; that it doesn’t matter if you can touch your head to your knee or bring your sternum to the floor.
True enlightenment comes the day you get up from your mat and realize that nobody is going to put your picture on the cover of Yoga Journal or even on their refrigerator door, and that’s fine ‘n dandy!
True enlightenment comes the day you realize (cliche alert!) that it’s all about the journey, and that there really is no destination.
So I’m happy that my students’ arms are getting cut, that they can finally hold Navasana without breaking into tears, but I am waiting for the day when one of them comes in boasting a tee that proudly announces:
I SUCK AT YOGA.
(and then says in smaller letters, “And I’ve had a daily practice for 10 years!”)
That’s the teacher I want to study with!
Here’s my favorite sutra from Patanjali:
“That practice is truly grounded when it is done incessantly, with reverence, for a long time.”
So practice on, Yogarians! Practice on!