I've started to notice more, that when I let go of my expectations in regards to my practice, how much easier it seems to both practice, and also to be satisfied with my results. I'm a perfectionist. I'm one of those people who, if they can't do it perfectly, they won't do it. It's a huge flaw that I'm working on. Perfectionism is undeniably unhealthy for both your mind and your body. *I'll explore this in another post, at a later date.
For now, let's talk about my previous night's sleep. Terrible. I woke up exhausted, in pain, and thought "No way am I going to be able to practice today! I'll suck, I'll feel worse because I couldn't muster up the strength to get through everything. I'll fail! So there's no point in even trying" Yup, these are just a smidgen of the thoughts that were running through my mind - not just when I first woke up, but as I went about my day. They'd keep creeping in, and I'd alternate between feeling guilty for not even wanting to attempt my practice, and rapidly trying to come up with creative excuses as to why I didn't need to practice. Trying to assuage my guilt, you know. The funny thing is, that I needn't feel guilt to begin with. But I do. A lot.
Anyway, I saw my teacher earlier in the day and she asked if she would see me at class later on that night. I whined a little, complained of being tired and not "up to it". Yada yada yada. But she could see that I was clearly wavering, and said "You know, you could come, and just take it easy during the practice" All I could think of, was that I was going spend the whole time attempting poses, and then collapsing in Bālāsana, repeatedly. Taking it easy? Rather a foreign concept for me. How could I do that? I would look like I was cheating, or being lazy and I couldn't stand that thought. Anyway, I said I would think about it, and after some additional chitchat, finally (rather reluctantly, I might add) I agreed to go.
For the rest of the day, I kept thinking, "Crap! (I actually used a different word in my mind, but I'm trying to be polite here LOL) practice will be terrible, I'm terrible (lazy, etc)" Just a general abuse situation, as I imagined what my practice would turn out to be like. But as the day went on, I finally convinced myself that if I spent 3/4 of the practice laying on my mat, at least I was there! I knew I would feel worse if I didn't go at all (there's that guilt again!). That sounded decent enough for me, and I was able to work with that little bit of acquiescence that my mind allowed. Finally, this was something I could work with!
So, after all of this abuse and expectations I had of myself and my practice, you're probably wondering what happened. Did I go to class? Was it just terrible, as I had imagined it would be?
It was wonderful. I found myself (once I had given myself permission to relax, and just let it come) flowing through my practice, going deeper (both in the poses, and within myself). I marveled at how it was all coming together beautifully, when I had expected it (and I) would be so lacking. I quickly recalled other practices that didn't go well, because I couldn't release my expectations. How I berated myself when I didn't achieve something I thought I should have/could have done easily. How I left, feeling dejected, frustrated and angry with myself.
Does that mean that my practice last night was PERFECT? Not at all! I wobbled and fell out of a couple of poses, and my attempts in trying a new asana was comical. It was fun - lots of laughter :) My thinking that I'd never be able to get through all the Saluations with the strength I needed was wrong, because I was able to! But none of that mattered. What counted was that I tried them, again and again, and just let it come (or not come, as the case may be!) The important thing was being in the moment, experiencing it was for it was, and being happy with that.
So is this some kind of magic? I briefly thought my new Dear Lil Devas (www.dearlildevas.com) ochre bloomers arrived with magic imbued in them, but quickly realized the magic is in the Yoga itself. It's not just a bunch of poses that one physically performs. You are literally performing on all levels - mind, body and spirit. You work through the practice, and in turn, Yoga works through you. Allow yourself to be open to whatever your practice has to teach you; embrace the change.
Because in this Yogic journey, resistance is truly futile.