Yoga Practice as Object


Someone I met recently asked me, “Do you ever get bored with your yoga practice?”. “Yeah, sure” I answered. But what I didn’t say was that at times, as well as boredom, there can be frustration, fear, infatuation, aversion, desire…and that’s just for starters!

I’ve always believed that a yoga practice has to sit within our lives, not outside them. We don’t have to ‘be’ anything in particular to do yoga. Not female, flexible, vegetarian, slim, or wealthy, despite the stereotypes. Anyone can practice if they want to.

So it follows that if our practice is part of our lives, it’s also going to share the up and downs, the good times and the not-so-good times.

Over the years, I’ve had several students say “I don’t think I’ll enrol next term, yoga is not really doing it for me anymore. I think I’ll go and try (insert exercise form here).” Depending on who it is, I might just say “OK”. Or I might say, “Well that’s a sign that the yoga is starting to work. You are at a really interesting point in your practice. Why don’t you stay on and see where this takes you.”

“If doubt comes let it come. Do your work, let doubt carry on with its work, and see which gives up first.” – BKS Iyengar

Because, like anything, our yoga practice can be viewed as an ‘object’. The practice itself is just a practice. What changes is us, in relation to that practice. As we move along on the yoga journey, we might sometimes be seduced by progress. At other times we might find ourselves in a holding pattern, struggling to maintain ground. What’s interesting for me is how we respond to this. What is our reaction? Do we say “Let me see how this unfolds?” or do we say “That’s it, I’m done, yoga’s not working”. Or something else altogether? With commitment and effort, and by looking after supportive conditions which surround our practice, we learn to develop an innate affection for our practice which sees us through these less alluring times.

Yoga Sutra 1.2 says “Yogah-cittavrtti-nirodhah”. Roughly translated, this means yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of consciousness. This could be misconstrued to mean that we are searching to become a kind of flatline emotional being. But this is not my take at all. For me, this means we feel the gamut of human emotions, but are on a path to developing equanimity. To be the same in the face of boredom as we are in the face of love. Or be the same in the face of grief as we are in the face of joy. To be the same when our practice is frustrating as when it is exhilarating. Yoga frees us from the shackles of emotional turmoil.

Practice helps us to develop non-attachment to emotional states, and also to understand that all things will pass.

For me, yoga is a bit like the weather in Melbourne. If you don’t like it, just wait a bit.


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