A student asked me to post the occasional readings that I share in class. A recent theme in class involved 3 p’s – practice, patience, persistence….but not perfection. There is a concept in yoga that one practices earnestly and with effort and yet is not “attached” to the result.
Do you think the marathoners from this week’s Boston Marathon were attached to getting their very best time? Perhaps, but mostly the runners I know, were so excited to put their miles of training forth in one of the most exciting athletic events of the year. They were patient while waiting in the corrals of Hopkinton for the starting gun to fire. They were persistent in trying to beat the headwinds across Route 128 and certainly practice helped all to ascend the hills of Newton. The runners I saw on Monday were thrilled to be a part of this wonderful community-rousing and inspiring event that we call the Boston Marathon; this was the perfection sought that day.
Willingness to Do
It takes something bigger than ourselves to participate in such an event with the fundraising goals and familial support needed to go off on long training runs. Some might call it willpower even and as I read in class from BKS Iyengar’s book, Light on Life, he offers this insight “When the gardener plants an apple seed, does he expect the apples to appear at once? Of course not. The gardener waters the seed, watches each day and feels happy seeing the growth. Treat the body in the same way. We water our asana and pranayama practice with love and joy seeing the small progress. While we know what the goal is, we do not focus on enlightenment. We know that when our practice is ripe, illumination comes. Patience allied with disciplined practices brings the required willpower…..Willpower is nothing but the willingness to do.”
Perfection is not required
Athletes who have tremendous willpower to pursue running, cycling, triathlons, cross-fit and rowing often say to me, “I need to be more flexible before taking up yoga. I am too tight in my hips and in my shoulders to do yoga.” Rather, the message is don’t be attached to what you think you need to do yoga, as the slogan goes – just do it. Everyone can practice yoga in their own patient and persistent way and so we are offering a new class called Yoga for Athletes that is designed to complement existing training routines and help those with tremendous willpower to have the willingness to do yoga. It does not matter if you are able to touch your toes or stand in a handstand, we are called to not be attached to the outcome rather to be enthralled with the journey that is the marathon of life. So give it a try and come to the new Yoga for Athletes classes that start this coming week – Monday April 25th from 5:45pm to 6:45pm with Caitriona Taylor and Friday April 29th from 5:30pm to 6:30pm with Natalie Greene. Bring your patience but not perfection to the mat.