All stages are necessary, whole, and perfect within themselves. Just because you don’t see the fruit right now, it does not mean that the plant is doing a bad job... Or that you are.” ~ (Laura Rosell)
I'd like to be honest here and admit that I'm at KPJAYI because I'd like to do cool poses and this is where you come to learn how to float into handstand and put your feet behind your head and the like. Why do I want to learn to do these things? Why not?! I've received a great deal of education in the world of the Yoga Sutras, yoga spirituality, Ayurveda, the Bhagavad Gita, etc... and I'm so grateful to my teachers. So now, I'd like to master asanas, particularly the ones I can already do and then work towards learning the ones that I've found difficult, like turtle pose and floating up into handstand. So... imagine how my ego feels. It's lying here dormant throughout each asana, but it's ready to pounce at any moment!!! At any sign of failure or success! It's such an interesting battle keeping it in check lol ... And so it waits.... I wake up each morning wanting to learn funky, awesome looking poses in sequential order without losing my breath....
And I'm 'failing'.
Seriously... I'm totally clueless (temporarily). I realize I am only 4 days into my training, but still!!! Do you have any idea how hard it is to memorize almost 60 poses in order? And all by yourself since you are your own teacher in this course (there's no one leading the class). Or, as I learned this morning, how hard it is to get into a handstand with the right leg on the ground and the left one floating up, when you've been practicing it the opposite way for the last 10 years... with your left foot on the ground and the right one leading both of the legs up? I'm like a newb! I am literally not able to do it; YET. ;)
Here's the best part about temporarily "failing" at my handstand this morning... I laughed. It just came out of me... I actually laughed out loud at myself. "How ridiculous is this!?" And I smiled. I'm learning so much outside of just cool poses. I'm receiving a lesson in: Patience. Persistence. Diligence. Discipline. Ahimsa. Satya. I'm learning to be equanimous and present and open hearted!
If you had seen me years and years ago in my first yoga class (and some of you probably did), my reaction would have been totally different. You would have known me as 'the perfectionist'. You would have seen me frowning. You would have probably seen my cheeks red with embarrassment and my mind obviously running around like a crazy monkey, mentally beating myself up because I couldn't do a pose. There would be no practice of Ahimsa here. No way. No open hearted patience. But yoga has taught me a few things...
Ahiṃsā is a fundamental principle forming the cornerstone of its ethics and doctrine of Yoga and is one of five yamas (click on link for further reading). Ahimsa means not causing injury to anyone, including animals, in any form, at any time, or for any reason, in word, thought, or deed. As these are gently, lovingly practiced over time, they gradually evolve into great vows for living.
Ahimsa pratishthayam tat sannidhou vairatyagah.
[Upon being established in non-hurtfulness, there is a relinquishing of hostility in the presence of that (ahimsa).]
~ Patanjali Yoga Sutras ii : 31-39
What is Satya? In yoga, Satya is the virtuous restraint from falsehood and distortion of reality in one's expressions and actions. Satya is truthfulness. One should always tell the truth in thought, word, and deed. If one follows the truth in this manner, all one's words will become true and all one's desires will be fulfilled.
Satya pratishthayam kriya phala shrayatvam.
[Upon being established in truth, there is surety in the result of actions.]
~ Patanjali Yoga Sutras ii : 36
Pattabhi Jois offers another kind of mala, which is ancient in tradition, as sacred as a prayer, and as beautiful as flowers. His mala is a garland of yoga, in which each vinyasa, is like a sacred bead to be counted and focused on, and each asana, is like a fragrant flower strung on the thread of the breath. Just as a japamala adorns the neck and a pushpamala adorns the gods, so too does this garland of yoga, when diligently practice, adorn our entire being with peace, health, radiance, and ultimately, self-knowledge.
So... I may not be able to do turtle pose yet... or a handstand with the opposite leg up first and then with both legs coming up at the same time, yet... or remember which pose in the sequences comes next, yet... but with practice I will be able to do it someday. And with more and more practice of each asana within Ashtanga yoga, or ANY yoga for that fact... I believe I can expect to learn more and more about myself... and continue to develop into an equanimous and strong yogi. And so can you!
Now check out these turtle poses and transitions to chaturanga and handstands. Crazy huh? It's hilarious.