The Prize

Many people describe the wonderful benefits they’ve had through their Yoga practice – weight loss, injury rehab, cutting stress, and many others. It’s great that there’s so much on offer. I feel that there’s even more, if we keep up the practice, although the biggest prize may not be quite what expected.

Yoga books describe the characteristics of good students. Reading these, we might think we have to change or try to be different, like we’re not quite up to the job. I don’t think this is true; I think that we’re at exactly the right point to start, and that the necessary qualities will develop – if we can stick with the practice. What are the qualities?

  • We’ve given up pushing ourselves to the point of injury, and no longer beat ourselves up for our failures (ahimsa).
  • We practice often, and consistently (abhysasa) – and always with ahimsa.
  • Our minds are open to new changes/improvements in techniques and attitudes (vairagya).

Teacher trainee assisting headstand balance.

With our boundaries redefined in these ways, we’re consistent enough to be effective, but our touch is light so we never burn out.  We’re ready to let go of old habits that no longer help. And oddly, we stop wanting things for ourselves. This – I feel – is the ultimate gift from a Yoga practice: to no longer need a gift from the practice or from anything else.

I don’t mean that we deny our needs. When unnecessary “wants” fall away, we’re very clear about our needs and how to meet them. We become fully passionate about the happiness of our loved ones, and we understand deeply what they need. Of course, that may not be what they “want”.

We don’t stop loving others or having and achieving goals – we just don’t bother with the ones that – ultimately – are pointless.

Sinead in bridge pose on elbows on a grassy hill.

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