I was sitting in traffic the other day on my way to teach yoga and saw one of those big lit up signs that read, "Work Ahead." It's a familiar sight in the midwest this time of year. It can trigger frustration and dread, and has become synonymous with, "pack your patience because this is going to take a while." It made me smirk and think how relatable it all is to our yoga practice. I even envisioned having a mini work ahead sign sitting outside of the yoga studio door as a way to remind us that we might not get to go where we want today. These things take time.
Do I even have to say this? Shit has to get messy before it can get good. Yes, I'm comparing the construction zone on your daily commute to yoga. You don't get to drive 5 mph over the speed limit in a construction zone just like you don't get to sail through every experience your met with (physical or mental) on the mat. Yoga is a lot of things (that's for another post), one of them being a practice. A discipline. Lifelong ones at that. Social media has us seeing flawless yoga poses against gorgeous backgrounds that lead us to believe we can think our way into a one-handed arm balance with a split if we just go to an advanced class a few times. When we can't, we get discouraged, maybe we look for shortcuts, but shortcuts weren't meant for yoga. Yoga was meant to be messy.
There's work involved dear reader and I don't mean hard-physical-pain- push-yourself-work. I mean the kind of work that involves patience, finesse, learning, regressing, respecting, pausing, listening, building. The good long lasting work that sustains us on and off the yoga mat isn't a straight, clear path, it has detours, delays, setbacks, then breakthroughs and then unexplained slow downs before things start feeling smooth and on cruise.
There's a big difference between making a yoga shape versus someone who understands the pose and can live in it. How can we do our yoga with integrity and reverence for our own unique body - in a way that is sustainable beyond this one time on our mat? Remind yourself that there is work ahead.
Make time for movement (yoga) as Summer in the midwest comes into full swing. Maybe it's a handful of postures while you wait on dinner, laundry or before your morning/evening shower. Take it outside. Get creative, slow down, get off the highway and engage with movement you're not good at. When was the last time you made a new shape with your body? Your brain and nervous system will love you for it. It's OK that there's work ahead.