“The practice of concentrating on a single principle counteracts the obstacles.” — The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Gary Kissiah
Earlier in the week, I’d reached for my book on the yoga sutras. Upon opening it up to a random page for my sutra-of-day (week, or month), this yoga sutra 1.32 was where I landed. I immediately thought of work, but found the sutra did not quite fit. And soon I was on with my day — sutra 1.32 long forgotten… until last night in the ashtanga foundations class.
Ashtanga yoga both intrigues me and challenges me. My experience in trying to achieve some sort of routine in this practice feels similar (yet different) to when I was taking ballet for the first time. The perfectly demanding invitation for strength, concentration, grace, and ease enthralls me.
It frustrates me too.
Because this practice is so exacting and new, I have felt the need to practice the series of poses at home. Thankfully, most everyone in the class is just learning. But still, I feel handicapped in my inability to come into several of the poses and, most especially, perform the jump-back and jump-through that stitches nearly all of the poses together.
This week, the jump-through was one of my primary focus points, when I found the time to practice, that is. I arrived at class a little proud of my new-found ability to lift my tooshie off the ground and thread my feet to the back of me with a weak but developing fly back. This move was with the aid of my two yoga blocks. Since the majority of the students in class have achieved this level weeks ahead of me, I felt it to be a huge milestone. And that it is.
However, just before class got rolling, my instructor’s assistant came around and removed everyone’s second block. I whined. Yes, I whined out loud. But the instructor and her helper just smiled at me.
Class began and once again I struggled to the point of feeling demoralized. It didn’t help that my body was tired and muscles tight from the increasing hiking miles I’d been logging. But I kept at it and tried to call myself back from the self-trashing that came. I thought of yoga sutra 1.32. “Practice, Julie. Just practice.” I called.
And although I never was able to jump through, I did manage to practice the attempt. In time, it will come. I just hope that time will come sooner rather than later.