January 25, 2013

Why It’s Called a Yoga “Practice?” ~ Trish Huston

Source: yogurtyoga.tumblr.com via Rebecca on Pinterest

“Practice and all is coming” ~ K. Pattabhi Jois

Like many teachers out there, at the end of each class (post-savasana and Namaste) I always open myself up to any questions my students have—although I really believe they are my teachers. Not only does this provide space for one on one time with individuals, but my hope is that I will be inspired by their questions and continue to learn more about this transformative practice. To be honest, chances are they’ll ask me a question I don’t have the answer to, but then I can do the work of finding it out, and deepen my knowledge in the process.

Like all teachers, I get all kinds of questions—mostly about alignment—but this afternoon I had a student ask me something I’d never been asked before.

“Do you have any tricks to make my mat less slippery? I just bought it and I feel like I’m slipping all over the place.”

Having experienced this same situation before, I knew the answer and it was not quick, easy or the “trick” I knew she was looking for. In fact, it was a variation on an answer that a well known teacher (and one I was lucky enough to have practiced with for six weeks last year) often provides when asked both the simple and complicated questions about yoga.

I looked her in the eye, and said, “Practice.”

She stared at me blankly. I realized then that I needed to elaborate. I didn’t quite have the authority my teacher had where you just shut up and accept it when he gives you a one word answer.

I completed my thought, “Just keep practicing on it and eventually you’ll work it in.”

She looked disappointed, and as if her all-knowing yoga teacher should have a more profound answer—I normally don’t. Her voice had a tone of defeat.

“So, there’s no quick and easy solution I can buy to fix it?”

In our high-speed, instant gratification, microwaveable western society, it seems everyone is looking for the easy way out. And our yoga practice is no exception. Not unlike this student’s dilemma of the slippery yoga mat, many of us are looking for a quick and dirty trick to achieve a beautiful pincha mayurasana, a challenging hip opener, or maybe just a relaxing forward fold depending on the depth of our practice.

Sometimes we find ourselves striving to achieve a posture with such determination that we look for the fastest, easiest ways to get there—even if we compromise our bodies and avoid the real time commitment and work required. Taking time actually—wait for it—makes the results that much more rewarding.

Just like working your new mat in, there is no shortcut solution to practicing yoga. It is called a practice for a reason. The same way as kids we had baseball practice before our games, dance practice before recital, we use our practice space in yoga to try new things that we can’t already do—to take chances, to make mistakes and in short, to learn.

So yogis, I invite you to bust out your slipperiest mat, hop on and practice with a capital P. You might achieve that arm balance or deep hip opener—but at the very least, you’ll begin to rough up that slippery mat.


Trish Huston finds her yoga on a mat, on an invigorating hike, or in a good glass of wine with a friend. Her love of yoga began by watching her Mom practice to VHS tapes when she was just a little yogi practicing happy baby pose. She is passionate about community, health and wellness, spreading the love, homemade baked goods, and forward folds. She is convinced that the world would be a better place if everyone practiced yoga.

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Assistant Ed: Maja Despot
Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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