There are a million reasons not to practice. This is a picture from my mat at 5:17 am.
Thankfully my eyes are a bit better than my camera, but it is still dark. And cold. And I hurt. And I didn’t sleep well. And my stomach is a bit upset from sucking down 2 cups of coffee in 10 minutes. And I’ve got to go to work. And I…and I…and I…and I…
A million reasons not to be on my mat at 5:17 am, six days a week. But it only takes 1 reason to be there. That reason may change every day. More and more the reason is because it needs to be done.
I gravitated toward the Ashtanga Vinyasa system for several reasons. The first is that it promotes self-practice. The system is designed for householders, those of us with worldly responsibilities, who cannot spend the majority of our time in study (or attending classes, immersions, etc.). It is a succinct method of practice encompassing the 8 limbs into each session. The second is that it is a specific, time tested practice. It is not a benchmark—meaning that I am not comparing and judging yesterday’s practice v. today’s; it is a consistent practice. It does not matter if I don’t feel like doing forward bends today, they are part of the practice so I have do them regardless. Yes, there is room for customization (I do pretty well with the full Primary Series in 1hr 15, but I move pretty quickly), however, the framework is set. I’m not making it up as I go, I am following instruction with faith. Why is headstand after shoulderstand? Why is utplithi, a very demanding, heat-building asana, performed as the last pose before rest? Because that’s the way it’s done. Do it consistently and your practice will provide you with all the answers you need.
When the mind is coming up with an infinite flow of reasons not to unroll the mat, or roll the beads, or sit on the cushion, or open the harmonium, or serve the poor, or do whatever your practice is, THAT is the one reason you need to do your practice.
Tomorrow morning at 5:17 am when you are wondering why the H E double hockey sticks you are out of bed, know that I am there, too. And it will be a good practice.