Along the same lines of what I said yesterday regarding commitments not being challenging until you are tempted to break them, I believe that the best yoga practices are the ones to which you can barely drag yourself. And the second best yoga practices are the ones which suck so majorly that it’s an effort not to simply roll the mat back up and make for the door.
Until you get to the “wall” of the marathon, you don’t know what you’re made of as a marathoner. Until you hit that familiar mental resistence to your practice, you don’t know if you’re really disciplined enough to keep a steady, consistent practice going. Until you get to class and realize that (a) you have nothing to hold your 18 inches of damp hair back from your face and can expect to spend the next 75 to 90 minutes peeling sticky strands off your face every time you exit an asana, (b) somehow, during the night, someone beat you about the limbs with a billy club and poured cement into your spinal colum and (c) you’re already on the borderline of too late to get the assist that you came for, without rushing through some or all of your postures…your yoga practice may be physically challenging, but you haven’t really reached your edge.
I mean, how hard is it to calm the chatter when there is, relatively speaking, no chatter? How hard is it to find steadiness and ease in your asanas when your body feels good and strong and full of joy and energy? Where is the yoga work in that? Physical work, yes. But the yoga is in the quieting of those boisterously loud and abusive missives being fired at your decent, beautiful self by your mercurial, and at times, malicious, mind. The yoga isn’t in the putting of the leg behind the head. It’s in the putting of the leg behind the head when the head is screaming “I don’t wanna” and the body is begging to be put out of its misery.
I know some will disagree. Some will say that it doesn’t matter if you find a task difficult or difficult to motivate to do in the first place. If you do the task, you’ve accomplished something positive. And yeah, when you put it like that, I can see it. But you haven’t faced your edge. You may have accomplished something good, but if it was easy for you, well, then maybe you need to try something else next time. In yoga, that “next time” is built into the system. It’s a given. Flexy today, leaden tomorrow. Leaden today, hopefully flexy tomorrow. But no guarantees. And you still have to get to the mat. That’s the yoga.