For most of us, ‘easy’ isn’t necessarily a way we would describe our Yoga practice. Everything involved in our Yoga sometimes might feel like a huge effort, from getting out of bed, to the procrastination of taking that step onto the mat to begin, to the postures themselves; at times it can all feel like a big struggle.

Physical challenge

The practice of asanas/postures, is designed to realign us, rejuvenate and nurture us, and make us feel connected to ourselves. Of course it also involves challenges to improve our strength and flexibility, physically as well as mentally. Often we spend the time as we make our way through our practice, anticipating and occasionally even dreading, a difficult posture. Feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy or fear might arise. Sometimes this leads us into avoiding the confrontation with the physical discomfort; or even to not practicing at all.

Mental challenge

On the other hand we might be physically quite capable of attempting some of the challenging postures, but our mind gets in the way, finding all sorts of excuses as to why we can’t possibly practice this posture today. We might be fearful and overly cautious or lazy or lacking in confidence, enthusiasm or commitment. Doubt is also a common hindrance: – “… why should I be doing this?” or “.. is this really beneficial or the right thing for me to do?” Or we might feel depressed and unable to rouse any motivation.

Emotional challenge

Our body and mind are inherently wise. Our being knows and senses when emotional processing is imminent, which we might not feel ready for just yet. Then we find ways to consciously or unconsciously avoid respective elements in our Yoga practice, despite them potentially leading us to a break-through.

Discipline – Sounds hard, but doesn’t have to be

After contemplating all of the above, what readily comes to mind is the term ‘discipline’. If we embrace discipline and practice regularly, we will eventually overcome all of the above obstacles… (so they say). That of course is easily said and may well be intellectually not difficult to grasp. But the fact still remains that we have to do the work, and get onto our Yoga mat. We might find this simply too hard and give up the practice for that day or that week.

Letting go of expectations – How do we best tackle all these seemingly insurmountable obstacles?

Let’s start by removing terms like ‘tackle’, ‘insurmountable’, ‘hard’, ‘hopeless’, ‘inadequate’, ‘unattainable in this life-time’ etc. from our Yoga vocabulary.

How we approach our Yoga is determined by our mental attitude and belief system. Let’s remind ourselves that to become good at anything, one has to practice it a lot, over a long period of time. We do not want to spend months or years practicing Yoga, missing out on much of the fun, because we are so fixated on the goal. As always: – let’s enjoy the journey as we are approaching our goal step by step.

Adopt a sense of playfulness, just trying something for the sake of it, rather than to ‘achieve’. Approach the challenge with an eagerness, curiosity, and an ability to laugh at one’s self, take it lightly!

Playfulness, curiosity and fun – do the best you can in a non-competitive discipline

When practicing Yoga asanas/postures we can take a break from our own competitiveness, and that which society also foists upon us. It is so refreshing not to have to accomplish or achieve anything, but to just work within one’s capabilities, and be completely happy and contented with that. This gift of freedom can be very motivating, as it invites creativity and playfulness. A natural curiosity is setting in, and we will – without even thinking about it – do the best we can. Because it is fun!

Always feel free to explore different ways of practicing postures. Adapt, and amend when needed.

Invite the word ‘easy’ into your practice

In German we use one and the same word for ‘easy’ and ‘light’. Think of your practice as being light; visualization can be very powerful and effective. I use this on a ‘lazy-body handstand-day’, when my hips just don’t want to make the leap to above my shoulders voluntarily. I picture it to be light and easy and promptly I find myself in the posture without too much effort.

This approach certainly makes the necessary lift for the ‘jump-backs’ inbetween seated postures – half vinyasas – much more manageable. Plus, one gets more of a sense of what is involved in its’ practice.

These are just a couple of simple examples for bringing ease into our Yoga. This can certainly be extended to our over-all approach to our practice. Rather than a short and intense relationship with Yoga which can lead us to giving it up, ‘serious’ Yoga adepts can take themselves lightly, and still stay perfectly devoted. With that they are able to sustain a regular and committed practice over a long period of time.

An ‘easy’ way to bliss

After nearly 30 years of living in OZ, I might have lost just enough of my ‘Germanness’ to be able to let go a bit of a typically stoic approach to my practice, with high expectations of achievement and perfection. After all, the physical practice is a means to free the mind from its obsessions, and gain the ability to direct its focus towards a chosen object. Also when a posture isn’t ‘perfected’ – and this might simply be due to a physical limitation – you can still be in ‘perfect’ control of your mind, feeling free, light and relatively ‘happy’.

OM Shanti,

Angelika