We live in a society obsessed with the final product. Heck, you could probably set your phone or computer down right now, walk to the nearest market, and purchase a prepared meal within the next ten minutes; or, better yet, just have it delivered! While this convenience is often a lifeline to sanity for busy New Yorkers, it also separates us from the process.
There is a process to everything, from creating a piece of art to the series of expansions and contractions that make up a single breath. In yoga, we are asked to notice the process and release expectations of the product. That sounds beautiful in theory, I know, but how can we actually practice non-attachment when there is obviously a set physical structure to each pose?
Well, here’s my take:
I once had a Russian movement instructor, Vlad, who ended every class by challenging us to become “pelmeni.” In Russian, this means “dumpling.” In yoga, we recognize this asana as Yoganidrasana, or Yogic Sleep Pose.
Vlad would walk around the room belly-laughing at us as he yelled, “MORE! MORE! MORE!” It was not pleasant, but I knew that there was a lesson to be learned. My ego decided this lesson was to teach Vlad a lesson - I’d be a Pelmeni by the end of the first week if it was the last thing I did.
Needless to say, that did not happen.
Once my ego was sufficiently busted, I decided to get curious about the process. It went something like this: deep hip openers every single day, several weeks of practice, and having the courage to laugh with Vlad as he laughed atus.
Guess what? I became a Pelmeni and I didn’t even care.
Those several weeks of practice didn’t teach me that I could become a dumpling. Rather, they taught me that there is a process to everything. This meant that not only can I train my body to fit into a certain position, but I could also learn how to navigate the metro in a foreign country, cook a five-course meal, and even become a certified yoga instructor. I can do whatever I want as long as I embrace the process!
You can, too. Humans are cool like that.
So, while you may dream of a perfectly parallel Warrior III or hope that your heels touch the mat in Downward Facing Dog, I encourage you to insteadfocus on the joy of the process. That feeling of the future calling as new air enters your lungs, the release of the past with every exhalation. Allow your practice to be an asylum from the onslaught of societal expectations. Just…breathe. You may become a dumpling one day, but you’ll be so in love with the process that you’ll barely notice. And that’s why we keep coming back to the mat.
See you there!