When I was a kid, my family and relatives used to ask for their time pass “What do you want to become when you grow old?”, teachers used to ask “what do you dream to become in your life” and my manager asks “what are you short term and long term goals”. Somehow I was always not too sure what to answer. At times I was guilty for not knowing the proper goal of my life. It is said that everyone is born for a reason, but how do I know, why I am born? If I was assigned the goal for my life when I was born, I would have saved many sleepless nights thinking about it.
Point is we are always told that we need to fix on a goal/target and go towards it. In fact, my Yoga journey started with the same intention and I was behind achieving the right posture. What is right is what teacher told me or that which looked good. I was too much dependent on my teacher to tell what is right and what is wrong. I was pushing myself to get the right asana. I spent many sleepless nights due to extreme pain, dreaming that the process will end soon. Thinking, when will I become extremely flexible and permanently pain free? This never happened.
What changed my approach was my experience in mountaineering. During mountaineering we were putting ourselves to such extreme situations that looked insane at times. Still why did we do it? Initially, I thought we were doing all this to feel good when we reach summit. We felt good, but there were times when we did not reach the destination. During those times, can we say we wasted precious time in our life attempting to climb? No, we became better at climbing. So, why not focus on climbing which is the activity in the present moment as our focus? This is something that can always get better. Enjoying the journey was the only way I could enjoy mountaineering as it was disturbing to think what might happen. I applied these lessons in to my Yoga practice.
I stepped back from pushing myself to observing what I am doing. I started observing every small things that leads to so called perfect asana. I stopped at every step in between to see how much better I can do. Instead of achieving perfect looking asana, my focus changed to make every action perfect. Without worrying about what I did earlier, or how much I need to do today, I was just observing whatever I was doing. I became experimental in my approach – Not standing straight where I am supposed to stand, breathing fast and slow, just to see what happens to my actions etc. My feelings became my guide, telling how far I can go and how I am doing. It was such a pleasurable experience and I was more connected with my practice. Is connecting mind with our actions and being in present, not Yoga about?
I finally understood that Yoga practice is not about reaching any destination in the form of a perfect asana but rather it is about enjoying the journey of getting there. This approach has made a lot of difference in my practice and even to flexibility level, which I am not interested anymore.