What is Sustainable in Our Practice?

What is Sustainable in Our Practice?

By Shanna Small


“The practice of Yoga must reduce both physical and mental impurities. It must develop our capacity for self examination and help us to understand that we are not the masters of everything we do.”-TKV Desikachar

Making shapes, without self reflection on the internal space, results in a practice that gives unsustainable results. The high right after Yoga is short term. Equanimity is long term. The ability to execute a Yoga pose is short term and subject to factors such as health, age and the absence of hardship. The internal fortitude, gained while working on these poses, is long term.

The focus of Yoga is usually on the parts that are not sustainable. These are the easiest to see and to acquire so it makes sense that we start there. The benefits that are sustainable are the hardest to acquire and the ones least likely to be worked on. However, these are the benefits that keep people on their mat for 10, 20, 30 years. These are the ones that get people up in the morning.

The deep internal benefits are the ones that make us into good people, not just when everything is going our way, but also when everything is falling apart.

This only happens when our Yoga practice is allowed to change us. For many, Yoga just shifts their aggression, anger, angst, shame,fear, worthlessness and unhappiness for a little while. It must be allowed to go so deep that all the path ways to our suffering are eradicated.

For this to occur, we have to let go of our excuses and reasons for why we are angry, fearful or unhappy. Yoga asks that we accept how we feel, let go of the story and embark on a new way to live. It asks us to accept that we are not the masters of everything we do. That our pain and suffering is guiding us and it is a hideous master and we must refuse to be its willing servant.

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