It Gets Harder
Yoga is unlike any *sport* I've ever done.
I've had a pseduo-regular yoga practice for about 10 years. And a pseudo-zen philsophical practice for a little less than 20 years.
In the last 3 years or so, I've tried to step up my commitment to yoga and combine it with my zen practice as well. Recently, as a result of starting my own law practice (I'm practicing quite a bit these days!) and managing my own schedule, I've been able to return to a regular studio-based yoga practice -- which is awesome.
The thing about Yoga that is completely different from any other regular physical activity in which I've engaged is that the longer I practice, the more difficult it becomes.
Not in a bad way.
Quite the opposite.
It's just that with every additional day of practice, I learn more things I can focus on, pay attention to, and isolate in each pose.
As a result, I now find even the most basic class to be very difficult.
When I started, I only sought out advanced classes because it was the only way I could exhaust myself into a state of relaxation. Now, I can take an hour long class for people who have never done yoga that allows for many rest breaks and never deviates from the basic fundamental poses and I'll still find it challenging and rewarding. In fact, sometimes I find myself dripping with sweat in these basic classes even more than in a more advance class, as a result of breathing deep yoga breaths, paying attention to where my mind is, where my eyes are focused, and what the various muscle groups are doing because they hold the poses for so long while allowing the new students to get used to them.
Today, I've found that no matter what type of class I take, if I go to the studio, by the finishing sequence I'm always exhausted and relaxed.
I find it very comforting to realize that this is a practice that I will be able to have for the rest of my life. The well-rounded combination of a mental, spiritual, and physical practice means that even when I am very old or sick I will be able to find some aspect of the practice to challenge me.
I am grateful.
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