Last week, while attending my regular Wednesday morning yoga class, I noticed that over the past few months my effort in asana practice was becoming a bit lackluster.
I stopped jumping back in chutarunga, used my knees in yoga push ups, and opted out of some of the challenging inversions and arm balances. I realized that all of the things that I had been so excited to learn when I was a beginner to class had started to lose their appeal.
When I observed my behavior I thought, "What's this about?" I wasn't injured or tired and I was quite capable of doing all of the challenging poses, I just didn't feel like it lately.
I remembered back to my first few Wednesday morning yoga classes. I was so excited to be learning new and challenging poses, being pushed to my edge, and listening to in depth discussions on the Yoga Sutras. With great enthusiasm, I went to class three times a week, practiced poses at home, and read everything that I could find about yoga philosophy. I was in a honeymoon phase with my asana practice!
Now, years later, the realization hit me that I was in a different phase of my practice. Although I still love yoga and my teacher's gifted style of teaching, I am no longer on my yoga honeymoon. I am in a phase that requires some effort and work to sustain my passion and ability to continue to learn and grow.
When we are new to something, we often have a natural enthusiasm for it. Our "beginner's mind" is open, curious, accepting, and present to all of the new information coming in. Then as we gain more experience and knowledge, we tend to lose that excitement and our passion fades. We may even think we know all there is to know. This can happen in our marriages, in our jobs, or in any area of our lives.
In yoga philosophy, one of the Niyamas (great vows) that Patanjali recommends we commit to is tapas. Tapas is a burning enthusiasm or passion for our practice. He tells us that enthusiasm isn't necessarily something that just happens, but something that we cultivate. Looking outward for inspiration can work temporarily, but ultimately our enthusiasm must come from within.
Armed with this knowledge allowed me to make a conscious effort last week to regain my enthusiasm for my yoga practice. I committed to jumping back in chutarunga, pushing myself to my edge, and doing all of the inversions offered by my teacher as if they were new to me again. I opened my mind and before I knew it, I felt my old passion and enthusiasm come flooding back.
Zen Master and author, Shunryu Suzuki said, "In a beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in an expert's there are few."
Choosing to look at our lives with the mind of a beginner can bring creativity, optimism, enthusiasm and endless possibilities into everything that we do.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras