I once heard a story about a senior Iyengar teacher whose non-negotiable daily commitment to her practice was to do her headstand and shoulder stand at 5 p.m. local time.
I no longer remember who it was – if you can fill me in, please do.
But since she was an international teacher, who travelled often, she more than once did her practice in an airport lounge, in a time zone her body didn’t recognize.
I’ve been thinking of that story lately. For an Iyengar teacher, the core poses are headstand and shoulder stand, regarded as the mother and father of asana. So our travelling teacher’s choice was logical, if somewhat extreme.
Now that September, land of infinite possibilities, is drawing near, and I find myself asking what daily practice I’d be ready to commit to.
This is a different question from the one I’ve asked in the past, which was: “what are my goals for my practice?”
Sometimes it was a specific pose or series of poses that I wanted to focus on, sometimes a weakness or a closed area in my body. Last fall, my goal was to prepare for the Jr. I assessment.
But a daily commitment is something different. It makes me nervous.
I don’t even know if I like the idea of making a daily practice commitment. It changes my relationship to my practice, like any commitment changes any relationship. Do I really want to have one more thing in my life that I’m duty-bound to do? Isn’t it enough to just do my best to do a two-hour practice every day, and be content when it turns out to be four out of seven, with a class on the fifth day?
While searching the internet for the wisdom of the ages, I ran across this quotation from leadership consultant Anne Morriss, first published, as far as I can tell, on a Starbuck’s cup.
The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating – in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.
Oh well then, it’s worth a shot.
I know myself well enough to know that I will not get up early and practice every day at the same time. I also know that I’m not willing to commit to a headstand every day. Five days out of seven, yes, but not every day.
So what I would commit to do every day, not when I have the time, or feel like it, but without fail?
At the moment, I’m thinking about shoulder stand.
I love Salamba Sarvangasana, and barring a bug that keeps me in bed, I can always do it, even if it’s shoulder stand in a chair.
To make it easier, I’m thinking of my commitment to a daily shoulder stand as a time-limited offer: shoulder stand every day for the 12 weeks of my teaching session, from the middle of September to the beginning of December.
It looks small enough to be doable.
As of now, I’m still mulling it over. I plan to keep on mulling, in fact, for the next two weeks. I won’t be posting until then, and I’ll let you know what I decide.
In the meantime, is there a daily yoga commitment you’d like to make?
Think it over. Perhaps we could commit together.
Image courtesy of squeezomatic, via Flickr Creative Commons.
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