The Practice 2

Embarrassing photo courtesy Ellie Kaufman

Whenever I tell someone I do yoga 5-6 times a week, the response is invariably, “That’s crazy.” I’ve wondered if other people get this reaction, like marathon runners, say, or anyone doing something they’re passionate about that happens to involve a daily commitment. No one seems to attach the “crazy” label to the horrible practice of sitting in a chair for forty hours a week, although we wouldn’t be off-base for doing so.

This isn’t to say that going to yoga in the wee hours of the morning is easy for me. Indeed, there’s inevitably one day a week where I have to fight with myself in order to get out of bed. But I am always glad I did, even if I’m hungover or exhausted or cranky. Doing my practice always makes me feel better, and gives me a sense of accomplishment right out of the gate that stays with me for the rest of the day.

Since my internship at Mother Jones ended and I’ve started this exciting/terrifying free fall into being a self-employed writer, I’ve had to think about my daily choices a lot more. I’m the kind of person to get off track very easily–oh hello, Twitter!–so reaffirming my commitment to things that are important to my health, well-being, and goals is crucial. Part of the reason I’ve committed to a daily Mysore practice is that it has a snowball effect on other areas of my life. For instance, I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 9 years old. Sure, it’s not a meth habit or anything, but I would drink 4-5 cups of coffee a day, and it really started to negatively impact my health–my skin and my body’s ability to rehydrate, most notably. I naturally complained about this to my yoga teacher Magnolia, who’s also my unpaid therapist and drill sergeant. She told me to quit drinking coffee, duh. It took me a few weeks, but I eventually succeeded, and now I’m seeing all kinds of improvements in my body and life (and wallet. Damn, did I have a latte habit).

Long story short, committing myself to yoga helps me know that I’m staying on the right path. Granted, I still veer off course, like, all the time. I stay up too late writing about threeways, e-hoarding, and werewolf sex. I rarely ever turn down a glass of sauvignon blanc (or 7). I spend far too much time stalking attractive people on the internet. But that intention, the dedication to something as simple as caring about my health, fosters an attitude of achievement that affects many other things, my creativity, livelihood, work ethic, etc.

I never knew I could be disciplined until I started doing yoga. Some things we never know because we’re too busy coming up with excuses to try. Maybe that is the real “crazy,” that we allow ourselves all these opportunities to not change, that we look at our habits and think they somehow permanently define us.

Be smart with your time, and your choices whenever you can. Reaffirm your commitments to yourself daily, because if you don’t have a stake in your long-term goals, then who will? As Dear Sugar said, about art, but I think we can apply it to the choices we make in general, “Art isn’t anecdote. It’s the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives.”

What commitments have you made to yourself lately? What’s worth the discomfort and the struggle? I don’t think we ask ourselves this enough. I certainly don’t, but I’m trying to be better. That’s another tenet of Mysore. The point isn’t to be able to put your leg behind your head or be flexible enough for acrobatic sex or what-have-you. Showing up is. The trying is the lesson.

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2 thoughts on “The Practice

  • Theresa Geary

    This is an excellent column, showing how dedication to yourself is the ultimate goal for each of us, to do what is good for our mental, physical and spiritual health. Nobody is perfect, but it is certainly a good goal to try! Awesome!

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  • ShanaRose

    I like the reflective tone in this, seems like being out of that cubicle has you breathing fresher air already. Good on you. I know my struggle to find a point of discipline continues on, and I know I’m fighting the good fight.

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