Have you ever felt anxious/crazy/scared when you're not really sure what you're supposed to be doing with your life?
The great yoga guru Shri K. Pattabhi Jois was known to often tell his students who sought his guidance, “Practice and all is coming.”
I'd heard this referred to in yoga classes for years, but I’m finally starting to believe it.
Since January, I’ve been going deeper and deeper into the asana practice that Guruji made famous -- Ashtanga Yoga -- and one of the biggest lessons I'm learning is about practice and consistency. There’s really only one way to get better at anything over time: practice with consistency.
Practice, practice, practice and all is coming.
Committing to an Ashtanga practice is not for the faint of heart. It’s meant to be practiced nearly every day, preferably in the early mornings. Ideally six days a week. Three hundred sixty-five days a year. Long-time practitioners say that the real and subtle benefits don't even start to become clear until seven or eight plus years of daily practice, and that at that point, putting your feet behind your head is as normal as any other daily care routine, like flossing. "Mental floss," as my teacher would say.
Ashtanga asks a lot of the yogi. But it also gives so much.
The practitioner essentially experiences a whole life cycle with each practice and gets to touch the edges of who s/he is in all regards -- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And the more you show up to do the work, the more your body, mind, and spirit will continue to open and awaken.
That's the magic of yoga.
There are rest days built into the system too, which I think is super sweet. One weekend day off each week, moon days (full and new moons), and ladies are encouraged to listen to their bodies during that time of the month, which means we get really in tune with the lunar cycle. Yay, rest and nature! But most mornings, I’m on my mat at the shala to climb the mountain of my practice.
There’s no hiding in this traditional way of learning Ashtanga, via parampara, the direct transmission of knowledge from teacher to student. In the Mysore room, the ashtanga teacher works with each student individually to create a customized practice based on a classical series of postures. In this method, the student must develop proficiency in the series in order to progress to more advanced postures.
After my first couple months of consistent practice with the Primary Series, my teacher Lisa started adding poses to my practice from the Intermediate Series. The yoga nerd that I am, it was a turning point! Here I was, going deeper into my daily practice, with more consistency than ever before, and sure enough all was coming.
All is coming. How cool is that?
In recognition of Guruji's profound and simple teachings, I realize that one's yoga practice is only as good as how it is maintained in situations off the mat. So, I’m working on integrating the lessons I'm learning into other areas of my life, which can feel intensely scary, challenging, and life-affirming all at once. With Ashtanga as my anchor, I am discovering each day that anything is possible, as long as I show up to experience it. I'm excited to share more of the merits of my practice and healing journey with you along the way.
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Yoga, Surf & Healing w/ Camille Retreat
October 6-12, 2016 in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua