At the Desirée Rumbaugh workshop, I was explaining my knee injury to Desirée and how I had recovered from the surgery. I told her that although the downtime from yoga had been felt, I did not look at it as a loss. In fact, it had helped in many respects; most importantly, it had allowed me to approach yoga from a beginner’s vantage point. My muscles had softened, loosened up and become more malleable. I had to slow down my practice and become more aware and alert to what my body was telling me. And even though I was once again a beginner, I was not coming at yoga from the same point of five, six years ago. I had learned a lot about yoga; I was less fearful of “doing something wrong;” I understood the importance of consistency.
In other words, to paraphrase a quote from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, you can never step in the same river twice; for other waters flow flow over you. And, for that matter, you are never the same person.
It occurred to me that this is good advice to any beginner (or practitioner). You have to accept the injuries, the illnesses, the interruptions in practice, as opportunities to approach yoga from a fresh angle. The lapses are also chances to emphasize the other aspects of yoga beyond the physical asanas: meditation, pranayama, seva. After “backsliding,” the first reaction is to feel regret or peeved.
Tonight I went to a Hatha yoga class with Marylou McNamara at Thrive Yoga. Some practitioners would look down on it and consider it only appropriate for novices. I call the Tuesday night session my “remedial” class because it always makes me come back to the basics. Last night, Marylou gave a masterful class that was full of nuances and subtleties grounded in Anusara principles. These details probably went over the heads of most people there because of the peculiar vocabulary of cuing that Anusara instructors use and because their practice probably is not yet mature enough to recognize the ins and outs of this type of instruction, but the yoga still did them a world of good and they will reap its benefits, as I did.