Asana can either reinforce our convictions, habits, thought patterns, or be an opportunity to evolve. The next time you practice, read the following excerpt from a conversation between Michael Stone and Chip Hartranft:
“Let’s say I’ve come to a yoga studio and class is starting. Have I checked all my wanting and not wanting at the door? No, I’m still the same old self, fearing pain and hoping for gratification. Now when I get the euphoric endorphin rushes that come with practice, I’m going to mistake them for the goal, and each time I do yoga I’m going to unconsciously strive to recreate that pleasure. So Patanjali is saying that the relationship to the body must be very carefully cultivated. The body is the biggest part of the world that we know. And the world of the body is immense. The body is an enormous universe in and of itself.” – C.H.
In the moments you are sitting on your mat, before class begins, mentally re-enter and check wanting at the door. Spend a class getting to know your body within the space this creates. Allow the typical asana checklist you employ to stay at the door as well, and consider, instead, the question “What does it feel like inside Virabhadrasana II? What does is feel like inside paschimottanasana?”
Repetition is the format that our brains and body respond to, and is the way that new neural, emotion, and physical pathways are formed. Evolve, by continually re-entering and checking your wants. Continually asking what it feels like inside the pose. Ask, also, what is inside the pose with you right now that you could check at the door.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra I.21-22 “For those who seek liberation wholeheartedly, realization is near. How near depends on whether the practice is mild, moderate, or intense.”