Some years ago, I read an interview with B.K.S. Iyengar, who was in his nineties at the time. The interviewer asked him why, after all he had accomplished, did he still feel the need to stand on his head for 20 to 30 minutes every day. He was in his nineties after all. Why didn’t he just take it easy?
I am paraphrasing Mr. Iyengar’s answer, but my memory of it is something like this: “I continue to practice because I am still learning. I am still having fresh experiences.”
This simple yet profound answer impacted me deeply. A man nearly one hundred years old said that he was still having new feelings and still learning in a pose he had been doing for over seven decades.
Over and over again, B.K.S. Iyengar reminded his students to avoid practicing in a mechanical manner. He asked us to be awake and aware in each moment, so we could develop sensitivity, discrimination and discernment. What a gift to be reminded that we can have fresh learning experiences every time we practice, if we have the discipline to be fully engaged and the openness to be fully present.
The next time you do Downward Facing Dog Pose, you might look around for some aspect of the pose that has been escaping your attention. Do you do the pose in the same way every time, with the same list of check points and the same priorities? Could you search for new dynamics or relationships in the pose, whether between body parts or between body, breath and mind?
Sometimes we need a teacher and a class to help guide this type of self exploration, so join us for Green Tara Yoga Online Classes. Even through the online medium, a class can take you along a slightly different path, and open up new possibilities for the next time you practice on your own.
How can we learn to do even a very familiar pose with nuance, open mindedness and curiosity? Each time we bring ourselves back to the present and take a soft, full breath, we might feel that we too can continue to have fresh experiences in our yoga practice every day, whatever our age.