Friday, March 14, 2008

Patience Grasshopper...

This week one of our students was frustrated with supta kurmasana and was clearly disturbed when we kept stopping her at this difficult posture. She, like so many of us, was restless and itching to move forward in her asana practice; and again like so many of us, she wanted results and had become impatient with her progress.

This reminded me of what our teacher once taught us about impatience. He said that impatience is a subtle form of violence or hostility towards oneself. (Of course then he looked directly at me and said that if a student is impatient they have not understood the the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Busted again!) So, for one more week lets keep with the Yamas and the Ahimsa theme.

You see according to Patanjali only one eighth of this classical yoga path is asana, and in his book he speaks about asana in only 3 of 196 verses. His emphasis makes it clear for all of us that in this practice of yoga there are some other limbs that we must attend to.

Whether it is on or off the mat, if we are "practicing impatience" in our lives we have omitted a first and vital step in our yoga process, and quite possibly our yoga progress. In the Yoga Sutras the chief Yama (the first limb of ashtanga yoga) is Ahimsa. Ahimsa is an action centered attitude of "non-harming" or "non-violence," and it is a vital, but very difficult, practice. It deals with our actions towards others as well as ourselves. We must cultivate this practice in ourselves and radiate it out to others. As always the mat becomes the great mirror, and if we are willing to look, it will reflect back to us our true progress on this path.

Ultimately, this comes back to choice. We must make the conscious choice to practice ahimsa: to be gentle with ourselves, to approve of ourselves, to have patience with ourselves, and after taking action, we must leave the results to God. Of course in this practice if the struggle of this daily existence overwhelms us... you can always do what Sri K. Pattabhi Jois tells us to do: "You breath You!"

Be Blessed! Peace, Out.