Yoga is a journey, not a destination
by Amber Jägers
‘Yoga is a journey, not a destination’….. A truth that I need to keep reminding myself of. My mindset is fast, practical and goal-oriented. It enables me to be super focused and to have a strong determination. The down fall of this goal-oriented characteristic is that I feel as if I´m in a constant rush to get somewhere. I have a major awareness of what is still to reach, of the gap between the ‘now’ and the ‘then’, the gap between ‘what is’ and what I ‘want’ – and maybe the most unsettling one: between what I think is ‘wrong’ and what is ‘right’. When I am ‘there’ it will be good, I can rest, because ‘I made it’. You can imagine how this thought-process creates a driving force of will and determination which is almost unstoppable, but My God, the journey itself is not pleasurable. Ask Margriet, with whom I work close as a studio manager at Yoga Spot. I sit behind my computer, slamming the keys, my eyes sharp as knifes, my breath short and superficial, in a rush, as if there is somewhere to reach beyond myself, beyond the present. And believe me: I don’t feel happy in that moment, I feel frustrated…. And then all this hope is focused on getting to B, the destination. But then, reaching my goal, I also reach the ultimate disappointment: it is not satisfying… I cannot enjoy it, I cannot value my work, I cannot relax, there is no door opening to heaven, nothing…. Actually the only feeling that really is left of all my hard work and efforts is the unhappy way in which I got there…. Only now, there is no place to run from it no more. An empty unhappiness that is so all-present that it just needs to be released. My illusion of how to reach happiness has caused me to built up the tension for so long, that it seems impossible to release. My shell has hardened and my mind became rigid. It takes several days to downsize this built up tension and frustration, often resulting in a small break down, a few tears, that finally help me to let go of this self-created prison. A prison that I have locked myself in, the moment I thought I needed to be somewhere else than where I am right now. The moment I thought I needed to reach anything beyond myself…
As the tears fall the bars of my prison break and finally I can see myself in a broader perspective. It is so liberating and often comes so instantly that when I look back it is almost hard to see that I, the same person, just now, a moment ago, was running like a mad-woman in a threadmill as if there was no other option. And now… with just a tiny little step to the side, I am out of it, and I look at the threadmill in wonder: was I really in there? Who does such a thing? That person must be a little insane. And at that moment I really feel like I will never get back in that threadmill: just too ridicuolous. Weird how weeks later I find myself on the same damn-thing….
I share this repetitive experience with you because I want to invite you to reflect on your own attitude in going from A to B. How do you deal with change? Do you want to be changed already, forcing the change and holding your breath until you have reached it? Or can you enjoy the journey? Can you be with every moment, no matter how slow, no matter how far away the goal may seem?
A good way to reflect on ‘the happiness level of your journey’ is to examine your yoga practice. First of all, with what mindset do you step on your mat. Are you open to whatever will present itself to you that day? Or do you have a preset goal about how you should be performing?
What can help is setting an intention. An intention is a focus for that class and helps you to create more balance. In other words, if your habit is to push and demand, your intention can be to slow down, to open up and soften…. Think about your intention for a moment. How balancing is your intention? In case you are only focused on the goal, try to remind yourself to focus on the journey.
The transition between each asana is as important as the asana itself. How do you move from place to place? Can you be graceful in each moment, enjoy the movement and experience the flow of the breath as your shape changes from moment to moment? Knowing that every moment in the transition is needed to reach your destination, you might as well enjoy it.
I would like to invite you, next time you come to your mat, to focus on the journey instead of the destination, and enjoy each and every subtle change that you create. Then I will do the same J
I was Inspired by the following article: Yoga Is a Journey, Not a Destination source: http://theyogasanctuary.biz/yoga-is-a-journey-not-a-destination/
Although most people come to the practice of yoga with some sort of goal, it usually becomes clear that there is so much more to the practice than any one particular goal can encompass. But it can still be easy to fall into a pattern of striving to achieve a certain (fill in the blank here) with our practice, especially when it comes to the yoga postures, or asanas.
You may have seen someone doing a pose that looked, to you, perfect. Or maybe you admired a photo or video of a yoga practitioner demonstrating a “perfect” pose. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the desire to achieve that which others have achieved before you. Unfortunately, when your mind is preoccupied with such a goal, your yoga practice will suffer.
Instead of striving to attain a perfect pose, let your practice be one of observation and acceptance of your current state. By moving your perspective from a hypothetical future situation—you striking the perfect pose—to your current, real situation, you will begin to notice the perfection of your imperfection. Notice your attachments and aversions, and try to let those dissolve as you fully embrace where you are right here, right now.
You will begin to see that this practice is not about getting anywhere or checking anything off your list. It’s about coming back to yourself in a raw, real, and nonjudgmental way. Let go of your preconceived notions about where this practice is taking you. They will only distract you from where you are really going. Yoga is a journey, with every step along the way meant to be the destination.