In this week’s piece, I want to share a little story. Something simple, no big deal. Just a story.

When I was given the full split into Second Series, Pincha Mayurasana, the first gateway posture that marks the way into Second, took me 18 months of work. Despite the instruction, encouragement and help I received, I couldn’t find my way around it.

One and a half years later, I was taught Karandavasana, a posture that I have been working on for another 18 months. This means, two postures in three years.

If I would have a teacher in town, maybe I would have been given something else to work on. I would have been given an asana candy. That would have kept me entertained. And deluded.

Madrid has competent teachers. But all of us teach at the same time, so I practice on my own. Also, my teacher is in London. I have come to establish a strong connection with him. I trust him, have surrendered to him, and so I don´t have the urge to seek instruction somewhere else.

Likewise, I have been traveling to Mysore for the last 5 years. I don´t go there to learn new postures. It is the nature and the quality of the inner work what keeps me coming back.

I read somewhere that Certified Teacher Magnolia Zúñiga call these the Dry Years, the years that you spend working on one posture. Even if challenging, to me this time has been deeply insightful. The pace of my progression has shaken me to the core, made me question deep-seated beliefs and shaped my understanding of the practice of yoga. As such, I wish to share with you some insights I have come to integrate.

The yoga is not the posture

I cannot stress this enough, and still, no matter how many times I repeat it, you won’t understand until you are ready to understand.

For now, I will just highlight that the yoga is not the posture, but the opportunity to look within, understand and resolve. Layer after layer.

The yoga is not being adjusted

Ashtanga yoga is taught, learned and practiced in a Mysore setting. Mysore practice gives the power back to the individual, who works at his/ her own pace, according to his/ her reality. The teaching of yoga runs way deeper than just adjusting, than putting people into postures. This approach is somewhat superficial and, as a community of seekers, eventually we must move beyond it.

The yoga is not a performance

You don’t have to prove yourself. Your self worth is not based on what your body can do. It is the awareness you cultivate what matters. The mastery over the maze of your mind, over the turmoil of your emotions, what matters. The quality and the honesty of the work that you do, what matters.

Let the practice pace yourself. Surrender as much as you can. You cannot undo years of conditioning in only a few months. If you have expectations at all, get real about them. There are no shortcuts, no magic pills.

The yoga cultivates compassion

Once you really, truly embrace the lights and the shadows of who you are, you are in communion with yourself. There is no need to compare yourself to others, no room for drama, because you learn to practice in a way that is nourishing, honest and loving.

To finish with

Do not question so much. If you seek answers in too many different sources, you will only be adding confusion to the mix. Likewise, do not push or punish yourself, become arrogant or get frustrated.

Still, if confusion, self-punishment, pride or frustration are your karma, you will have to deal with them, come to terms with them. These are you inner demons, the lessons you came to learn. There is no way out but through.

In conclusion, practice lovingly, honestly and intelligently. Dare to look. Let your struggles light your way. Then Shanti, the peace that you seek, is coming.

Love, Carmen