The Shifting Realities of Asana Practice

In the first year of my Ashtanga practice I was convinced that things would always be much the same.  I’d always struggle with focus, there would always be those old foes (Marichyasana D, Headstand, Lotus), my body was stuck in it’s ways, I wasn’t ready to commit to a serious practice.  But over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that if there is one thing consistent about practice, it’s that practice isn’t consistent.

As I pass through the familiar ground of the opening sequence I greet my friendly companions, forward folds, gentle twists, peace of mind.  And then I’m reminded of how when I first started my practice, by the time I hit the seated postures I was a sweaty, shaking wreck.  Then a couple of months would pass and I’d be given new postures, and then I’d meet my new challenge, Janusirsana B, or Marichyasana C, and then D.  Before I’d know it, Janu B would have joined the ranks of my other reliable and trusty allies that made up my practice, and I’d come to enjoy, rather than dread, the sensations of that asana.  It appeared the landscape was shifting.

Only now, looking back over the course of my practice, can I clearly see that while I may always have had a crux posture, that posture changes like the seasons.  While the changes in my practice may be so subtle, and sometimes feel like 1 step forward, 3 back… reminiscing about the challenges I’ve encountered and moved beyond, only serves to remind me of how much changes in our practice without us ever really realising.

My opening/standing postures used to take me half my practice, but now as they form a smaller part of the whole narrative, I swiftly and calmly move through them.  Things have changed, I have changed and so too has my practice.  My teacher Sarah said something very interesting to me, that previously would have made no sense “You’ve spent too long in Primary, enough, time to move on”.  I hadn’t realised that sometimes it can be that simple, that we spend time where we are familiar, telling ourselves the same old story “oh hello Marichyasana D, same old, same old again today I see”, when actually, no, it’s not the same at all – I’ve got the bind!  What once may have seemed impossible, can already be happening before you even realise it.

What has changed for you under your very own eyes without you even noticing?  Do you need to update the story you are telling of yourself?

The next step will be to take this concept off the mat and start updating the stories that you are telling yourself, and others, about yourself.

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