Have you found yourself rushing to a yoga class? Or perhaps you have found yourself full-on resisting going to yoga, or putting off practicing at home? Oh yes, I have come up with all the excuses. I don’t have time; I have to do X instead; I’m sore; I practiced yesterday; I just ate; I’m too full; It’s selfish right now; My house is messy; My bike has a flat tire; I can’t find my mat; I have to get gas; I’ll be late; I’m already late…sound familiar?
It’s a rich irony, isn’t it? That we hurry ourselves to a space intended for relaxation, slowing down and listening to our breath…which, after rushing to be in the sacred, cherished space, is urgent and shallow. It is ironic, and it just IS. The time we need yoga most is when we are never quite ready for it. So, we continue our practice to become more and more ready until “readiness” is not a factor.
Why in the world would the best time to do yoga be when I don’t want to do yoga? Now, not wanting to do yoga purely because of ego and not wanting to do yoga in an effort to practice humble moderation are two different things. The ego is loud and strong, and often responsible for distracting us from adhering to the yamas and niyamas – the five restraints and five observances that serve as a guide to right living in the world. Practicing moderation, meaning not letting yoga be life, but rather be a tool in life, is also challenging.
The right time for yoga is the present moment. The action must occur in the present without expectation for future outcomes; this is the basis of karma. We do yoga, practicing the asanas, the poses, in order to enter the practice of presence. Expecting a result [from the present action of doing the asanas] is to project into the future, where action does not yet exist.
Often, then, expectation is what keeps us from continuing our yoga practice by getting out the door and onto the mat. The effort of letting go of thought in the future is possible only if we are attentive in the present moment. Likewise, only in the present moment is it possible to find balance and to integrate opposing forces, like present and future.
You are pressed for time, so you’ll spend time decompressing. You don’t have the energy to practice, so you practice in order to find energy. Your house is messy, so you clear your mind first. And while we can’t deny the presence of persistent expectations for what is to come, what we can do is accept conflicting thought, embrace it, and then let it go here and now.