Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yoga Practice, Yoga Performance

I was babbling on about yoga practice once and a friend was patiently listening. Finally, he stopped me and asked if there was ever a "yoga performance". Puzzled, I asked him to elaborate. He explained: I kept going on about my "yoga practice". He wondered if it was always practice or if there was ever performance?

At the time this made me laugh. I'd never thought about what I do in "yoga practice" in quite that way, as yoga practice in preparation for a future yoga performance. I said "No, there was no "yoga performance", just "yoga practice".

This week, I've been thinking that I answered too quickly. Maybe there is "yoga performance". Practice is what I do every morning on the mat. Once I leave the mat, it is in some sense maybe, a yoga performance. Every day is another chance to explore what is possible. I'm not sure that the tough choices get any easier or more comfortable with a daily yoga practice. My yoga practice does seem to provide access to greater awareness of what choices are in front of me...although I would not necessarily equate greater awareness with greater ease or comfort.

I'm reminded this week of the Buddhist story of equanimity:
...I wish I could find the author and give credit properly...but it starts something like this:

"A man's only son is thrown off a horse and breaks his leg. The man's neighbor says "Oh, this is bad!" The man says, "Maybe, maybe not". The army recruiters then visit the village and take all able men off to serve in a war. Since the man's son has a broken leg, he does not have to go. The man's neighbor says, "Oh, this is good! The broken leg is a blessing!" The man says, "Maybe, maybe not."

The story continues in this vein with one event happening after another that we would typically label as "good" or "bad". The story illustrates that nothing is that simple as nothing can be disconnected in that way from everything else.

On Monday morning, our beloved mix breed dog, Asha, died. We miss her terribly. I would like to label this event as "bad", but I cannot entirely do that. In response to the sad news, my husband and I have been flooded with messages of kindness and love from friends and family. It is a reminder that there is always light and dark if I look for it. They are not separate from one another.

My work then as I finish my morning "yoga practice" on the mat is to do my best each moment at "yoga performance", using the experiences of practice to guide my responses to events as they happen, leaving room for the unexpected. I'm sad, missing a very devoted companion, but also feeling very loved and connected as I've been reminded that nothing happens in isolation.


  1. Hmmm... my off mat yoga performance is not nearly as good as my on-mat yoga practice yet.

  2. Ditto in my life Yyogini!...I think we have lots of good company though. :)