I started practicing yoga in the fall of 2006. My wife, Coleen, started going to classes first, and then I joined in shortly thereafter. We started off one day a week, and after a few years, we started going 3 or 4 times a week. There were definitively measurable results, but the level of commitment was still at our discretion. We could practice when we wanted, and then ease off when necessary. When life “got in the way”, yoga was probably the first thing to be skipped if time was short. The practice also took a backseat when I helped start our business, and we had our two children in the last 3 years. Unfortunately, those were times when I probably needed it the most. Stress has a way of slowly taking a toll on the mind and body.
In the big scheme of things, I’m still in my first few miles of the 26-mile marathon of yoga. And it is a marathon. As I delve deeper into my year-long goal of practicing every day, approaching the 100-day mark starts to raise questions about the benefits of this daily commitment. I’m not questioning why I’m doing it, but more along the lines of what it’s doing for me. There is so much going on in our lives, that unfortunately our true nature is generally clouded by work and life, among other things. However, with practice, profound change is happening incrementally. Through all of this sweat, there comes a point of awareness that is not readily accessible without the daily reality of your practice. When you have a clear mind that is not racing and continually analyzing every nook and cranny of life, you open the door to deeper, clearer thought and creativity.
So here is the connection between those two things – just as much as there can be incrementally profound changes that aren’t noticed right away for the good, there can also be as many changes negatively affecting the individual when one is not taking care of their body and mind.
With this developing insight, there comes a point when the ego gets involved: this thinking that you are somehow accumulating a special type of knowledge and experience over the course of these 365 days. And in a sense, I am gaining a deeper understanding of my own personal practice, but at the same time, I must remain humble, particularly when I look at others who have gone before me, and attained a level of commitment that greatly trumps what I have done. I don’t get discouraged because of this, but more so encouraged to work harder knowing that everyone’s individual practice is a lengthy pursuit that is filled with discovery…perfect for someone like myself who tends to get bored easily.
If you put forth the effort, it will go somewhere and be retained for some internal good. There is growth… There is progress… There is change. You may not be able to see it by leaps and bounds, but it’s there.
I came across this quote and it seems fitting:
Self-discipline, like many other qualities, must be cultivated. Progress in any form is accomplished through sustained effort. There are no shortcuts. The truest essence of yoga is not in any outward physical manifestations, but rather in the deeper, more subtle and profound changes, gained only through meeting the challenges that a daily practice reveals.