Does our yoga practice ever get easier?
Why does it sometimes feel like our yoga is getting harder, the more we practice on the mat? It’s because we are learning about ourselves. By Mellara Gold
As we evolve, change and grow so does our practice. Like any relationship, the more we invest in it, the more opportunity we give for things to come up to the surface for healing.
So although it doesn't necessarily get easier in the way we thought it might, we know we have a reliable source to turn to. Becoming more experienced in our practice, and through challenging times or moments of adversity, we feel the benefits of having a regular practice. Having a practice helps us to become more present while finding beauty in the chaos.
When folks are new to yoga and meditation, one of the biggest questions asked is: Will my practice get any easier? The quick answer would be ‘yes’ — and also ‘no’.
It is a bit more complex than that. A lot of it has to do with our perspective. Also, as we become more experienced, this allows us to reap more of the benefits, even with a lot of growth and change.
Holding a challenging yoga pose at length can be uncomfortable. Do you remember where you were at in your life when you first heard that down dog will was a 'resting' pose? Oh my goodness, with sweat pouring down your face, the mind racing, while even obsessing…everything and nothing happening all at the same time!
When we sit down in meditation, often what we have been putting off for later rises up to the surface for healing. Have you ever received a massage and later felt a little off balance, or wondered why it may have you feeling a little woozy? Just like a massage, our ‘stuff’ comes up to the surface in our practice; unconscious gunk if you will. So the more we can be regular with our practice, the more we have the chance to clean out and detox the layers of what covers up our truest self.
Inside our practice we become our own healer while being the observer of ourselves. Being in witness to where we get caught up, we move through the chapters of our life with a bit more grace and understanding. So while practice doesn't necessarily get easier, we become more able to cope with our life situations.
For me, practice has brought up many things. Going on retreats has helped, while also having a home practice, and spending time with my teachers. All of these things help me to see where I get caught, need to let go, and where I can bring in more compassion. Bringing the practice home and into life's ordinary moments is another opportunity to learn and grow.
Sometimes going deeper can feel disorienting, and it is by no means a walk in the park. One of the places where a lot of us get caught up is being too hard on ourselves. And if there has been some trauma in the past, as a way to cope with it we can often internalise our experiences as our own fault, bringing a lifetime of shame and low self-esteem to the surface, until it can be seen, heard and let go of.
The more we can witness just how hard on ourselves we can be, the more unsettled we tend to feel, even anxious. So at times it might seem like our practice isn't working, like we take two steps forward, and then three steps back. Yet, in seeing these emotions so boldly and in plain sight through awareness, we can potentially let go of what is no longer serving us; to let go of what isn't our highest good and where we don't need to function in the world like that anymore.
Probably one of the best things we can learn is that we don't necessarily need to be afraid of discomfort, be it physically, emotionally or energetically. Life has a certain amount of pain, sorrow, and joy, and sometimes all in one day! What I do know is that this is a natural part of life, and our practice gives us the tools, nourishment and certainty to embrace it all with love.
So, although it may not always be a smooth road having a yoga practice, the resiliency and inner strength we find within us is what it's all about.
When we practice yoga and meditation we are not so much doing it, per se, to improve ourselves, as much as we are remembering who we are — and that is priceless. As we practice, we cultivate courage that we never thought was possible, and in the end, this is why returning to the mat seems more important than ever.
Mellara Gold E-RYT has practiced and taught meditation and yoga for 25 years, influenced by Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Buddhism. Her radiant and inspirational teaching blends the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga with self-inquiry. She leads online and in-person workshops, retreats, and trainings and is a regular contributor to online journals and other lifestyle and spiritual magazines.