Practice makes perfect.
No. Practice is perfect.
That is my conclusion of the little time-lapse yoga practice project that I just completed.
It’s my one and a half hour Asthanga Vinyasa Yoga Primary Series practice condensed into a 17-minute time-lapse/fast forwarded video.
Just me, the camera man and two static cameras. No teacher assisting me with the asanas, no director giving me pointers for the filming, no fancy special effects in the final editing.
I wanted to do something to motivate myself and perhaps help some other Ashtanga struggling practitioners along as well.
Although it’s not very Ashtanga-like to observe oneself, I decided to get this little project going to inspire myself, for lack of anything better.
In the place where I live at the moment, I’m practically the only Ashtangi with a self-practice. No teachers to assist me, no friends to practice with, no one to peer pressure me—and I’m one of those who needs that. For the better part of the year, I teach yoga to others, but there is no one to teach me.
So I thought I’d get myself filmed, look at my practice and be my own teacher.
Of course, this video is totally unlike the picture-perfect, smooth and slick movies you find all over the Internet, made by super bendy practitioners.
I’m just an advanced beginner, as I like to call myself.
It’s me, with my wobbly Utthita Hasta Padangustasana* and my atrocious Marichyasanas*.
It’s me, struggling in Utthita Parsvakonasa B*, swearing to myself in Supta Kurmasana* and cheating in Garbha Pindasana*.
It’s me, with my rigid lower back and stiff shoulders.
It’s me, loving every single breath, enjoying every single drop of sweat, constantly trying to and mostly failing to lock that Mula Bandha.
It’s simply me, grateful for what I’ve achieved so far in the Primary Series, yet conscious of the enormously long road I have ahead of me before I reach my limits.
Just one ego-thingie, if I may: my bum is off the floor in Utplutih*. Really!
I filmed myself to see what I was doing wrong, to gain insight in what I could improve. And yes, I see uncountable things to be corrected.
Yet I also came to the conclusion that no matter how much I will further improve my performance, there is no such a thing as the perfect practice anyway.
Because today, this is my perfect practice. Tomorrow, my practice will be perfect in a different way.
A practice—implicitly, by definition—is perfect. Because of its intention.
When I dedicate almost two hours to synchronising my movements with my breath, when my practice is focused, when I get up from Savasana* refreshed and energised, I know that it was a perfect practice. No matter what I looked like, no matter how far my hands where from the ground or my head from my feet.
So to all who have a yoga practice, I would like to say that regardless of what level they have achieved in their practice, as long as it’s done with awareness, focus and dedication, it is a perfect practice.
* Throughout the video, all asanas (postures) come with (some phonetic version of) their Sanskrit name.
“Practice practice practice and all is coming.”
~ Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915—2009)
Click on the video below to start the fast forwarded recording of my practice.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo/Video: Author’s own