There is nothing that you can do, or can change about yourself, to do better yoga. There is no goal you can set that will make you better at yoga. You can apply yourself, with discipline and love, attention to detail, mindfulness to progress and respect to your practice, and then you will be doing yoga. But there is not one thing in the world, beyond self reflection (which has no goal, no expectation, and no externally focused result attached to it), that you can switch on and in so doing, deepen your practice of yoga.
By becoming more self reflective, we do not learn to become perfect, but rather learn to notice when we are moving further away from perfect. Behaving badly does not necessarily cease when we become “yogis”, it just turns into something recognizable. Advancing the practice looks like noticing sooner and sooner when the crappy behavior is settling down to stay. Master practice is nipping poor behavior in the bud faster and faster along the way. In learning to accept and recognize where we lose the path toward more goodness, good feelings, good relatedness with the world around us and ourselves, we learn to make yoga. Sharon Gannon, the co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga says, “You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. All you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.”
To truly notice what is in the reflection, we must be connected. In our bodies, connection looks like strength, or an interlacing to center. Core strengthening exercises, then, are the seed at the center of the asana practice. Cultivation of the strength it takes to truly look within is the beginning of yoga. The exercises will ask you again and again to look closer. This week, find one fun new way to make core strengthening a part of your everyday and enjoy what arises from your very own depths. To come in episode #2: some playful ways to build deep core.