"Relish Your Practice." -- Sharath Jois
A few months ago, I quit Ashtanga. While this was something that I loved wholeheartedly for four years, I felt it was too hard for me, and I got tired of feeling like I was never good enough. Not good enough to put my leg behind my head, too scared to drop back and stand up by myself, and unable to make it to class 6 days a week due to family and work commitments.
So I found a different teacher and learned some wonderful new things. I slowed down. I returned to my breath. I got quiet and still. I stopped trying to be anything more than who I was.
The funny thing is, as much as I loved this new practice, the call to return to Asthanga kept coming. I would look at instagram pics of Ashtangis, follow my old teachers and fellow students on facebook and twitter, and even dream of doing poses that I knew at some level could be accessible to me if I kept going.
I tried to quiet these thoughts, to dismiss them as ego or attachment or desire. But the thing is, as I resisted the desire, I began to get sad. While being in stillness with my breath and my body was nice and necessary, there was still a deep need in me to move, to grow, to learn, to achieve. Some call it type A, some call it Pitta or my "fiery" nature.
I used to label it negative -- "I just can't be present. I am always looking for something else or wanting to do more." But the longer I stayed with these desires without acting on them, I began to see that they are neither positive or negative, they are simply a part of who I am in this moment.
So this morning, I went back to Ashtanga. I flowed and moved and allowed myself to create and grow and strive. And it felt awesome. I realize now that previously in my practice, in wanting to become more and be better, I had lost the joy that had caused me to fall in love with Asthanga in the first place.
Doing the practice brings me joy. I don't know why or how, but when I flow with my breath alongside others doing the same practice, I feel at peace. I feel connected. I feel whole.
So next time I am ready to quit, which will likely come soon, I will remember to take the time to slow down. To be still. To allow my desires to surface, and to listen to my inner guidance. Ultimately by finding the right balance of being and becoming, I will find my joy again. And doing will become an effortless dance of allowing this joy to shine forth.