Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois famously said, “Practice and all is coming.” It’s such a simple sounding statement, and yet I find so much meaning packed into this one little sentence. I know I’m not alone in that, and I’m sure you can find several blog posts and Yoga Journal articles written about the quote. I wanted to take some time this week, though, and talk a little about my personal yoga practice and how these sage words motivate me regularly to get on my mat and do my practice.
Practice Means Progress
For me, finding the motivation to get on my mat every day can be difficult. I’m sure that sounds a little surprising to those who follow me on social media. I’m usually posting little things I have been working on. But while I do work on certain poses or do a little yoga here and there throughout the day, it can be hard to carve out a full yoga practice. I work full time, and my commute takes up almost an hour of my day. With YTT, I have homework to do. My husband goes to school during the day and works in the evenings, which means I am responsible for dinner and taking care of our dogs every night. By the time I get home, get dinner cooked, and eat, it can be just about time for bed.
If you’re thinking, “Just do it in the morning!”, well, I applaud your optimism. I am emphatically not a morning person. I have tried several times over the course of my life to commit to getting up earlier so that I can work out. It never, ever happens. Instead, I hit snooze and get mad at myself for lacking the fortitude to get out of bed.
I do get motivated, though, by progress. I am goal-oriented. Seeing myself progress in my yoga practice is motivation to keep getting on the mat. Perhaps this won’t work for everyone, but thinking of my yoga practice as progress certainly helps. Maybe I won’t see the progress today, or tomorrow, or even this week. I will see it eventually, though, and that is motivation enough for me to spend thirty minutes or an hour on my mat.
All is Everything
“All is coming.” Pattabhi Jois does not tell us that if we do our yoga practice, we’ll finally get that perfect headstand. He tells us that all is coming. That’s a big statement. So, what does it mean?
I see the phrase perhaps a little differently than some. Life is going to come at me whether I like it or not. Storms will come, moments of joy will come, the sun will rise and set at the appointed time. I can go through the motions of life without effort, and it will mostly happen. But what if I put the effort in? What then?
Well, storms are still going to come, but I will have my yoga practice to turn to in order to ride them out. I will be able to find the inner strength and peace I practice on my mat and practice it against the storm. Joyful moments will come, but the mindfulness I practice on my mat will teach me to take them in and soak them up every second that they last. The sun will rise and set, and I can’t change it, but I can see it for the beauty and wonder that it is, rather than just the passage of another day.
It’s hard to explain the attitude a regular yoga practice gives me. I’m a fast-paced person. Like I said, I’m goal-oriented, and I’m often looking at what comes next rather than what is happening now. My yoga practice forces me to slow down and take stock of the present. Practicing regularly reminds me to do that not only during my physical practice, but also in other aspects of my life. Let me tell you, my life is much calmer for not always worrying about tomorrow.
The other side of the coin of “all is coming” is learning to practice patience. When I set my mind to a specific goal, I tend to get pretty relentless about it. My teacher Angela and I are always talking about the tendency to get obsessed with a certain pose or transition.
Pattabhi Jois tries to tell us to let the obsession go. I’ll be the first person to admit that I will likely always struggle with this. As I’ve said, it’s a driving factor for me and a big part of what gets me on my mat in the first place. What we’re being told here is that if we focus on our yoga practice, and our yoga practice alone, the rest will eventually come. The poses, yes, but also the patience. The commitment to the yoga practice itself should be the goal.
The Yoga Practice is the Goal
I talked some time ago about my goal poses and trying to take my time after each accomplishment to enjoy my newfound abilities. It’s been going pretty well. I did focus on handstand and handstand press for a good while for those Instagram challenges I did, but that’s been the only thing.
Sure, I see things and I try them. Sometimes I can do them and sometimes I can’t. I work those things that don’t come easily into my practice, but I’m trying to stop practicing that one thing to the exclusion of nearly everything else. Becoming well-rounded means taking in all of the lessons of my yoga practice, not just the poses. Perhaps that’s a goal itself, but it’s a far-reaching one and still not the singular focus when I step on my mat. It can’t be, because I can’t do it in a matter of days or weeks. It’s a lifelong commitment.
Overall, I think this is a healthier attitude to take towards my yoga practice. Letting go of any specific notions of what my practice should look like gives me more freedom. In turn, it helps my yoga practice become more well-rounded. That well-roundedness will (hopefully!) be much more helpful to me as an aspiring teacher.
I’m really interested to hear what this quote means to you! Feel free to comment below, post on my Facebook page, or send me an email. I hope you’ve at least been inspired to get on your mat, practice, and find that which is coming.