In the early years of my Ashtanga practice a teacher was talking to us about commitment. He told us this joke: ‘A chicken and a pig walked down the main street of a village. They passed a pub with a sign in the window saying ‘Special – Bacon & Eggs’. The chicken got excited ‘let’s go in there!’, and the pig hesitantly responded “That’s all good for you, you will just provide a donation, but from me this requires a very different sort of commitment!”

He wanted to stress the point that a regular yoga practice needs dedication and devotion.

In Ashtanga Yoga, from the very beginning we are encouraged to gradually! build up to practice six times a week, with one day of rest. Because of the linear fashion of practicing a set sequence of postures, it becomes very apparent which part of the practice we need to work on, as we are challenged every day with the same physical, emotional, and mental restrictions. The greater the level of commitment to a regular practice, the more obvious and greater the progress.

As in everything, we will experience emotional ebbs and flows. There will be times when we eagerly and with enthusiasm turn up for class, and there will be phases – especially when we are aching or feeling like we are ‘plateauing’, and not getting anywhere – when we want to give it all up.

These are precisely the times when commitment and the established habit of a regular practice will help enormously. Honour the appointments you have made with yourself – put them in your calendar. On days when you feel less motivated, practice some sun-salutations, and then be content with your level of achievement. Most importantly, you are staying in touch with the practice.

With regularity you will certainly master dealing with your aches, pains, and frustrations and you will progress to the next level.

The mind is powerful, and likes to put obstacles in our way. Consistency and commitment are key here. When least expected you will experience improvement on whatever level you’re at. If you have been focusing on mastering a particular posture for a long time, you might be surprised at how many other areas of the practice in which you have improved, without having noticed this subtle but real evolution.

In other areas of our lives commitment often is uncomfortable, even dreaded, and some of us avoid it all together. The beauty with our yoga practice is that it repays us in manifold ways in comparison to our input. How often have we felt like skipping our yoga practice? If in the end we did get onto the mat despite the initial hesitation, we have come out of it feeling so much better.

A regular yoga practice rewards us in so many ways. When practicing we get a break from our obsessive mind and its incessant thinking, be those thoughts positive or negative. With the skill we have developed over time to direct the focus of our minds inward, the mind is now absorbed by the breath, bandhas & dristi. We experience a pause from everything else. It is time for our ‘Self’ to shine through. If you connect with this deep sense of peace and calm every day you feel quickly refreshed, and much more balanced, happy & contented on a long-term basis.

Our newly graduated teachers have celebrated the journey of commitment throughout their three years of training. The first year was dedicated to self-inquiry, personal growth, familiarizing themselves with the practice, and looking deeply inward, discovering the beauty and bliss which is inherent in us all. In the following years they learned to read others to be able to assist them on their journey. Teaching yoga – the most wonderful gift of sharing.

Join us to celebrate the completion of their training on Saturday with a Puja – a beautiful ancient ritual – flowers, and if possible a plate of food.

And… step onto your mat to get a taste of the sweetness of the practice!

OM Shanti,
Angelika

 

krounchasanaPatanjali’s Yoga Sutra 14 of the first chapter:

I.14 Satu dirghakala nairantarya satkara adara asevito drdha bhumih.

It is only when the correct practice is followed for a long time, without interruptions, and with a positive attitude and eagerness, that it can succeed.