What does it mean to practice? Do you practice to get better at something then to one day execute that something in a perfect as you can get it way? I used to have this saying my old supervisor in the military told me, ‘perfect practice makes perfect.’ Does ‘perfect practice makes perfect’ or just ‘practice makes perfect’?
In sanskrit to practice is called abhyasa. The Yoga Sutra* describes practice in the following Sutras: (The Heart of Yoga, T.K.V. Desikachar):
- 1.13: Practice is basically the correct effort required to move toward, reach and maintain the state of Yoga.
- 1.14: It is only when the correct practice is followed for a long time, without interruptions and with a quality of positive attitude and eagerness, that it can succeed.
Practice of Yoga
What does practicing look like? In the yoga world you frequently hear…
- ‘Hey! where do you practice at?’
- ‘Let’s practice yoga today’
- ‘I practiced today and it was amazing’
So, what do we practice in yoga? We practice compassion, non harmfulness, contentment, truthfulness, steadfastness.
Ohhh, hello Yamas and Niyamas. (We’ll definitely talk more about that later because there’s so much to learn there!)
Anywho…we start to practice on our mats and in hopes that we take that mindfulness off our mats into our daily lives as we interact with our loved ones, family, friends, co-workers, yogis, yoginis, and so forth.
So, when we don’t practice yoga and we notice that we are not mindful of our actions or our thoughts and instead we are quick to anger, jealously, telling white lies, easily faltered you can say we are out of practice. We’ll let that last part sink in, so you can think to yourself…’ah, the light is turned on, I see.’
There are so many examples in my life that I experienced this and knew that it was thanks to my practice of yoga that I didn’t lose my shit.
This past week I went to the studio that I teach at to attend one of my fellow yogini’s classes. Her class was just amazing. The studio is a brand new space, we haven’t even had the grand opening yet, so everything is brand new! Well, right when we enter the studio, I see there are new cubby boxes that Melanie, the owner bought. Immediately, I say to myself ‘oh something new! I am totally going to put my phone, keys, and wallet in there.’ Mind you, I have a yoga bag just for that purpose, but oh well, I WANT to use the new shiny object. After class we locked up the studio and at this point I’m feeling released and amazing. (side note: neither one of us has keys to the studio) As soon as the door to the building closes I realized I left my keys, wallet and phone back in the ‘new’ cubby box. Oh golly! I shook my head, took a deep breath and let my practice of yoga come right in.
We found a solution, Kinsey, my fellow yogini, was bringing me to my house and Melanie was going to pick me up in the morning (because she lives 45 min away) and bring me to the studio so I can get my car. We are about half way to my house and Melanie calls and says the receptionist is 5 minutes away. Perfect! we turn around, we are about 2 minutes from the studio, we come to find out the receptionist actually doesn’t have the keys to the building, just to the room where the studio is, so back to Plan A.
All of that took 90 minutes of our evening, at the end of it, all you can do is laugh and say well it was meant for us to spend tonight together.
There have been multiple, deeper examples throughout my week alone that abhyasa played a crucial part in that moment, to include teaching my teenager how to drive and dealing with my ever changing viewpoints on my personal relationships. All in all I stayed strong because of my practice of yoga and meditation.
So does perfect practice makes perfect? Or just practice makes perfect? I feel that either way, when the practice of yoga comes into play off of our mats, I feel as conscious humans we do our best to demonstrate that we can practice as best as we can and then if we do lose our shit, reflect a little bit of how we can do better (I do this on the regular).
Until next time, my beautiful friends … have a great week <3
*Yoga Sutra: Written by Patanjali before 400 CE that focused on the theory and practice of yoga.