Now that I’m back in San Francisco, one of the most common things people ask me about my trip is about my asana practice: has it just exploded? Have I progressed a ton? Is my practice longer now and am I stronger, more flexible, etc? And my first response to those questions was, well, no, actually. The changes, epiphanies, explosions that I experienced on the trip were mental, energetic, emotional but not physical. My practice was steady there: definitely aided by the devoted energy of the room but relatively easy, calm, enjoyable. I never felt challenged, exactly.
After a handful of practices here, though, I think I may have been mistaken. My physical practice is different; deeper, lighter, more focused. There has been an energetic shift, and of course that affects the body. Which maybe just means that I need to reframe my idea of how change happens. Sometimes, through daily struggle we finally get a bind, or a lift, or a dropback, and from then on everything is different. But sometimes the changes are subtler. For example, I remember being frustrated when I was beginning that I could not hold chaturanga dandasana. My hips sagged, my arms shook and I flopped to the floor when attempting it, I felt weak and thought there was no way I’d ever hold it steadily. Now, I can hold it, no problem. I don’t remember when that changed, or any specific day when I realized I could do it. Subtle changes, over time. Practice and all is coming.
These days, I’m just a little puddle of gratitude. For the experience of practicing in the shala, for the energy that feels like magic, for Saraswathi and Sharath and the assistants, for my chanting/philosophy/meditation/Sanskrit teachers in Mysore, Jayashree, Narasimhan, James, Laksmish. This experience continues to be life-changing.