Fear not the one who has practiced 10,000 kicks once. Fear the one who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. ~Bruce Lee
Last week, during my morning Ashtanga Practice I had an ah-ha moment. I am slowly getting into the habit of doing Ashtanga at least three times a week. So far I’ve completed the standing part of the sequence and almost done with the seated part. My goal was to complete the full Primary Series. When I went to my class I was eager to learn the next pose in my sequence as this would make me one step closer to finishing the seated sequence – eventually the series. I looked at my instructor with excited eyes and asked in my usual high pitched singing voice, can you assist me with the next pose?
My instructor in a calm manner said “next time” and smiled. I said “ok,” smiled back, closed the sequence I knew and left class for the day. Something clicked here. On my train ride to work, I asked myself 3 things:
- Why am I in a rush to complete the Primary Series?
- Have I perfected what I have been taught thus far?
- Whats important, depth or breadth?
The answers came to me over the week as I spent time analyzing this sudden change of goal from the simple words “next time”
Why am I in a rush to complete the Primary Series?
To give a little background on Ashtanga Yoga, the Primary Series is a traditional practice created by Sri Pattabhi Joise from Mysore, India. Ashtanga means eight (ashto) limbs (anga) from the classical text of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The eight limbs of practice include:
- Yama – moral values
- Niyama – personal and spiritual outlook
- Asana – physical poses
- Pranayam – breath work
- Pratyahara – control of the senses
- Dharana – concentration or inner awareness
- Dhyana – meditation
- Samadhi – union with divine
When practiced with devotion and dedication, the path will lead to the attainment of physical, moral, emotional and spiritual wellness. This logical path does not aim to change an individual; rather, it provides guidance to naturally achieve health in all aspects of life thus unfolding our greater self.
I was rushing this path. I needed to slow down. I became aware of this from my instructors words “next time” and my goals changed. I no longer wanted to complete the Primary Series just for the sake of completing it. I wanted to and needed to learn each movement, become the movement, stay in the pose, go through it, come out of it and repeat it. Till I can master it. Which leads to my next question.
Have I perfected what I have been taught thus far?
The simple answer to that was no. I knew this, but I didn’t have the wisdom to listen to it. I was so focused on completing the series that I lost sight of the truth. The truth was – I have not mastered or formulated a deep understanding of what I have learned so far. I need to fully absorb my teachings.
In order to do this I must practice, repeat, create a routine and not give up! It seems simple, but creating a habit is a difficult task. I’ve learned the first action item before even getting to the mat is discipline. Discipline myself to wake up at 5:30am, shower and head to my 7 am yoga.
Once I’m on the mat my next lesson was practice and just be. Don’t aim to complete what I have not mastered. Rather master what I have been taught, even if its learning to stand straight. Come to my mat and stand straight every time. Once I have mastered standing, is when I will and should continue the journey.
Depth over Breadth
I finally came to the realization its depth over breadth. Deepen the pose to my highest potential, increase my understanding of the philosophy, learn more about myself in each pose, expand my expertise and strengthen my practice mentally, physically and spiritually. The art is within the knowledge. Life is within depth!
Peace, Love and Happiness,