NAVIGATING INTO THE UNKNOWN
THE PATH AHEAD ISN’T ALWAYS CLEAR
Navigating our way with a balance of Practice and Non-Attachment (Abhyasa and Vairagya)
During these challenging and ever-changing times, I value my personal yoga practice more than ever. I find stability in regularly coming to my mat: sometimes for a strong physical practice; sometimes just to sit and focus on my breath for a few minutes.
This regular, consistent practice has helped me through the twists and turns of life and is especially important when the path ahead isn’t always clear.
Every week I work with a different theme for my classes, each one stemming from my own personal reflections.
The theme for this week is from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra I.12: Practice and Non-Attachment.
Practice refers to turning up: repeatedly and unfailingly. To quote Roy & Charlton in their recent book ‘Embodying the Yoga Sutra’:
“For most of us, it is relatively easy to start something new, the challenge is to maintain the practice regularly and consistently”.
Non-attachment means letting go of any pre-conceived ideas of how our practice should be. We learn to accept how it is and work with that, living in the present moment.
Practice needs to be tempered with non-attachment so it doesn’t become a polarised goal, which can lead to a feeling of success or failure, rather than acknowledging that everything is a continual journey that may involve changes along the way.
And, as with everything in the yoga sutras, these dual principles apply to life off the mat as well as our physical practice. They also apply as much today as when they were written over 2,000 years ago. Life never has followed a linear pattern and has always been full of surprises: some welcome and some unwelcome; but both resulting in change.
None of us could have foreseen our lives, both personal and professional, taking the course that they are on now. I certainly never would have envisaged teaching yoga online. But it is heart-warming to see students regularly turning up for classes, committing to their yoga journey, learning new ways of practising, just as I am learning new ways of teaching.
By showing up, we are moving forward together, finding time to prioritise our health and wellbeing, providing structure in our lives and feeling a sense of community whilst physically apart. But, if we are too rigid and attached to the outcomes of our actions, we can cause ourselves suffering. So, by applying consistent effort in the direction we want to go, taking our time, enjoying the journey, and accepting everything that comes up along the way, we find balance and calm.
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