Practice Makes More Practice

What yoga asks of me is to surrender. When the teacher cues a breath and a posture, you–the student–obey and find your form in he mirror. If you’re like me, the first time you practiced your eyes probably darted around the mirror, drawing comparisons. After a few months, your eyes probably searched your body to fix your form according to the teacher’s cues. After teacher training (for those lucky enough to endeavor upon the journey), your eyes probably shifted to assess the deliberateness of your movements and postures. But with all this thought spent on your body, what is going on in your mind?

You can start to answer that question by finding your reflection. That glance in the mirror is the most intrinsic and revealing moment you might have all day. With that glance, you make an instant self-assessment; what that assessment is can be different for everyone, everyday. Some see imperfection, effort, strength, sweat, exhaustion, discipline, willpower, or uncertainty. With that glance you reveal your under-riding thoughts, and how you react affects both your practice and your life.

Yoga asks us to marry our mind and body, breath and movement, to develop a truly personal practice. Every once and awhile, you get a glimpse of the person in the back corner of class, seemingly following their own pace, smooth and fluid, halfway here and peacefully halfway elsewhere. That person proves it is real: following their personal practice, for the benefit of their mind and body alone. That person finds their reflection in the mirror, and instead of judging and assessing, they simply react. Instead of seeing a misaligned posture or awkward movement and telling themselves, “That’s wrong. You should not look that way. Move this. Tweak that.” …they just move. No thought. No judgment. Just movement.

The ability to react without judgement; to see myself as a constantly growing and evolving individual; to trust my mind and body to work together as a unit; to surrender; is what yoga teaches me. I am a workhorse, an affectionate friend, and the most meticulous person I know. As a result, I demand too much of myself in my work and personal life, yet always manage to deliver. But just because I deliver does not mean I am balanced. Life demands balance, and to find balance, I must surrender that need to control my over-scheduled life and trade it in for some faith in my mind and body. Faith that I can hear the teacher, know the posture, and surrender to its form.

Not every glance in the mirror has become a positive reaction yet. I have, however, moved my mat from the middle of class to the front mirrors. There, I can get the best look possible at myself–as reflected through my practice. I focus less on right and wrong, and more on reaping the benefits. I focus less on perfecting postures, and more on the journey to each pose. I focus less on what is in the mirror than who.

How I see myself and how I react not only enhances my yoga practice, it carries into my character and my confidence. In knowing myself as a strong, trustworthy, evolving individual, I move through life with more direction, energy, and purpose. This is my unique story, but I feel that there is some truth in it for everyone, yoga practitioner or not: There’s always a thought, a word, an image we find in our own reflection. Instead of tearing it down with negativity, surrender to its truth and start building something.