This is something that has been weighing on me pretty heavily lately.
A few years ago, I made a commitment to Shiva to practice yoga daily. I would call it a “commitment” rather than a “bargain” because I hadn’t asked for anything in return, but it is the same basic thing. I was consistent (though not perfect) in keeping this commitment for about a year, and substantially less consistent in the next year. I did okay over the summer, but by October of last year I was rarely practicing.
Part of it was practical constraints – in warmer weather I’d been practicing outside, or in our unfinished (unheated) extension, so once it got cold there were a lot more easy excuses not to practice. I knew that if I really wanted to practice, I’d find a way, but having to “find a way” was enough discouragement that I kept putting it off and not finding the time.
Last month, when Raven began feeling called to work with Shiva, I was reminded of how infrequent my practice has become. I’m sort of a “rules weasel” so I dithered about it for a while. I told myself I’ve been doing other fitness-type things, which is pretty much the same, right? I told myself “Yoga” is a broad term… It isn’t just the physical asanas. Prayer, chanting, journaling… those could all count, right? Not that I was actually doing one of those things daily, but once the wheels of rationalization are set in motion it is hard for me to get any kind of clarity about a situation.
So I asked Raven for his advice, and he said that his impression was that while those other things were good, they didn’t “count” towards my commitment to a daily yoga practice. It had to be some kind of asana practice. Not necessarily a vigorous Ashtanga practice, not necessarily any specific length of time, but something reasonable given the circumstances of the moment.
Three or four days of successful practice, and then I got sick with one of the worst flus I have ever had. Really, I’ve not felt this awful since I had to get an emergency apendectomy a few years ago. I’m no longer acutely miserable with fever and chills and aches, but even a week later I’m still weak and fatigued. I can’t even fully support my own weight going down the stairs – I need to hold myself up using the banister or my legs shake and give out. Any overexertion brings me back to a bout of fever and chills. Staying awake for more than eight hours straight is a struggle.
So, have I been practicing? Nope. Not even a little. Until I saw this question today, I’d pretty much forgotten all about it. But this is my reminder, so I will get back to it. I might not be able to do much, but surely I can do something when I get home tonight.
The thing I try to remember is that a daily practice is about doing the practice today. There is no sense in me keeping score, or feeling bad about how much I’ve done in the past. Every day is a new day, a new opportunity. So all I have to do is practice today.