I first discovered ashtanga almost four years ago and was immediately drawn to the physical challenges it provided; I practised rigorously and with enthusiasm finding that, for awhile, physical improvements in the asanas were a regular occurrence. As somebody who had never felt particularly physically capable this was a real ego boost, ego being the operative word. But inevitably, after a time, my practice began to plateau and I was faced by my own limitations.
To me this is yoga; finding that gentle space between effort and struggle, the difference between loving corrections and violent scolds – connecting the breath and body with acceptance. And yet in my experience it is far easier said than done; I still catch myself internally berating my efforts in my practice, a pattern repeated in daily life when left unchecked. Yoga allows me to engage with and answer this voice, to silence it with a smile, and occasionally when my practice has been absent for awhile, a few tears. Conversely when I do not practice regularly my body feels heavier, but the biggest change I feel is not in my back, hips or hamstrings but in my thoughts, actions and awareness of the wider world.
Despite this I often find that I have tricked myself out of the practice I deserve. Ego’s don’t like to be quashed and mine frequently tells me “But you don’t have time…” followed by a long list of other important things I have to attend to that day. This appeals to my rational side; my practice takes around 90 minutes after which I need to shower and get dressed which brings it to roughly two hours.
“Two whole hours? Do I have a spare two hours today? Not really, it can’t be helped, I will practice tomorrow.”
This is a familiar conversation in my mind. To combat it I have begun answering it with “Some yoga is better than no yoga”. In saying this I persuade myself to step onto my mat, knowing that any time spent there is time well spent, a shorter practice does not mean a less meaningful one. Perhaps I will not work on supta kurmasana that day but I will deepen my breathing, focus my mind, connect with my body and make peace with my ego. This is why I really practice. This is why it is important for me to make some time, any time to practice. How do you experience making time to practice, are there internal/external obstacles to negotiate and what methods help you to overcome them?
By Claire Sanders