May 19, 2011

7 Reasons Why Our Worst Yoga Practice Can Be The Best One

Have you ever heard that? “Worst Practice = Best Practice”?…

People saying that they were not “feeling it” but kept going with the practice anyway and ended up having the “best practice of their lives” -or some exaggeration of the kind?

I have.  Had one of those last Monday morning.

The newly added antibiotics to the ongoing pain from a recent root canal left me no choice, I wanted out badly. But I thought I should call b/s on myself and keep going, do my practice, and I did. Good for me!

Here is how, I believe, the curious phenomenon of worst/best practice is weaved together:

1 – You decided to keep going anyway. You are in new territory already, you are exploring something you do not usually do and you are changing behavior. Pad yourself in the back! How many people can do that?

2.- You don’t have the energy.  You know that you don’t want to, you are tired, sick, in withdrawal from pain medication after a root canal, in break-up mode, in make up mode, angry, whatever.  You are keeping it real. You are grounded.

3.- You pay more attention.  It is likely that your mind is not-so-with-you, so you need that extra bit of focus to pay attention to the breathing, to come back to the moment to remember the sequence.

4.- You give yourself a break. Especially in the case of pain, you are not feeling so hot therefore magically you start to find your edge and not pushing that much harder.  You are working with what is, you are a yogi.

5.- New found awareness.  Suddenly and due to all of the above you find yourself in the present moment, you are aware of every moment and every muscle, you feel the tension and the release, you forget all the images you usually attach to every pose and get with what is actually going on.  You are not even doing yoga, you are just present.

Maybe it is just me but usually I have countless images flowing through my head of how the asana should look like.  They mostly appear to be in the way that Kino does them in videos I see in YouTube or the way that woman used to stay in the poses in that downtown NYC shala, or even how I see Sharath do them on tape. But all of these go away due to the worst-case-scenario situation, and that in itself makes everything so much more light.

6.- Savasana feels delicious.  After all that work and attention, the focus continues into relaxation pose and you find your body twitching in areas you never knew could twitch, like the back of your elbow. Then you notice how this spot is actually connected to the center of your stomach, they both seem to vibrate at the same rate.  OK that was what happened to me, your example may differ.

7.- You did it! You went through one of those whining moments of life, took charge and decided to plow through, with intelligence and compassion. You were gentle yet you did what had to be done to put bread on the table. Hm, that is not the metaphor is it?

Well done! It was the best practice of your life.

Here I am struggling trying to come up with straight legs in upward facing forward bend -Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana-  Good thing the end of primary series was in sight!

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Claudia Azula Altucher  |  Contribution: 5,160