One of the wonderful things about my yoga practice has been not having any ambitions. I’m close to 40 years old (38 to be exact), which is fairly late to start any bodily practice. And I’m quite stiff. So I didn’t expect much. I just decided to show up every day, and trust the process.
Come to think about it, that’s always been one of my most successful strategies – just keep doing the same thing every day, and don’t worry about the outcome of any individual day, or even the outcome in general.
Of course, me being me, it didn’t last long until ambition did set in. I read an article talking about Steve Jobs sitting in lotus pose and putting his legs behind his head. Immediately my mind started going “oh, as soon as I can do that, I’ll be as great as Steve Jobs”. Hey, at least I’m making progress. It used to be that I was the person in the world I least wanted to be. Now I’m at least willing to concede that it could be a lot worse, and working my way towards actually appreciating at least in a small way that I am who I am. It’s a process!
But I managed to turn that voice off again, so I could focus on just being in the present, in the practice, without any ambition.
Most of the people in the shala in Mysore are yoga teachers. They’re ambitious. They want to take it places, they want to progress, so they can advance in the yoga society. I don’t give a rat’s ass about any of that. I do like getting new poses. I absolutely loved being able to finish all of primary series, primarily because getting cold waiting for the others to finish, and then having to do finishing series sucked really bad.
I love the fact that I can now do lotus pose. In fact I’m really proud of that. I thought it would never happen.
But I’m also happy that I still don’t have any ambition for the yoga. I function best without a target, because I always end up pushing the target so high I have to miss it, and then I can criticize myself. I’m really good at that. If there was an olympics discipline in self-criticism, I’d win, hands-down.
I practice yoga because it makes me happy to do so. Because as my body opens up, so does my mind and my spirit. Because it makes me a better husband, father, human being, entrepreneur, and everything else. Because without it I feel like something’s missing.
And I’m going to keep on doing it until that changes. Which it might. You never know. The only constant is change.