I was remembering Woody Allen’s quote, “80 percent of success is just showing up.” But it was something else he said that got me thinking: “Tradition is the illusion of permanence.”
Over time our yoga practice inevitably changes. Each time we show up on the mat we realize our practice meets us right where we are. It’s like a refuge that gets us through all of the other stuff in life.
As our practice changes and morphs into something different than before, it’s tempting to compare it with where we used to be, or where we think we should be. More open hips, stretchier hamstrings, a deeper backbend, getting handstand. It’s fun to be surprised, so just go with it. And the best part is all of the benefits are cumulative. Every pigeon pose counts, forever.
Yoga is the practice that keeps on giving; as it changes it gets better. Breathing and moving, like dance, is the passport to a better present space. Just showing up reminds us we have more to give and a lot longer to go.
May all beings be free and safe from harm
May all beings be happy and fulfilled
May all beings be healthy and strong
May all beings have ease and joy in their lives
And be free from suffering.
— Lovingkindness chant
New Year’s, or anytime really, is a good time for metta meditation. The concept of metta is that we direct lovingkindness first toward ourselves and then, expanding outward, toward someone we love, one we are neutral towards, someone we may have conflict with, and ultimately to all beings everywhere.
It can be as simple as a momentary focused intention in our yoga practice to offer lovingkindness through our efforts, toward someone or something in our life. Every drop of sweat, each hip-opener, that third backbend.
Ultimately, the most powerful insight that comes from a metta-infused yoga practice is the sense of compassion and nonseparateness – of being inclusive rather than exclusive. For a lot of us, past conditioning led us to not trust our capacity to love. Practicing metta yoga opens our hearts wider, reminding us that we can indeed love, both ourselves and others, and that everything comes back to love.
Happy new year and happy new you!