The process of learning

The Process of LearningRecently I am learning to rest my body in order to recover from the tear of my intercostal muscles.  I come to realise that it is not what I learn that challenges me, it is the process of adopting new perspectives in life.  I am so used to the 6-day, 2.5-hour Ashtanga practice which continues to be the major stimulae of my spiritual pursuit.  Beause of the trauma of the injury, I needed to stop my practice altogether.  Whilst Ashtanga yoga is renowned of itsnature of intensity and vigor, I am totally drawn toits inner fire (‘agni’)that sets within me, without bearing a thought of bailing out from the rituals – I just don’t skip!My resting days without even touching the mat was more challenging than ever to me.

I couldn’t avoid thinking that I haven’t done enough for the day, I was physically idle, I was out of shape and I was losing stamina.  The self-inflicted emotional instability and distress became obvious and infectious.For a moment, my intellectual mind somehow got swtiched on during this uneasy time of almost being forced to withdraw from the practice in motion.  Learning to switch from the rigidity of mindset to a new disposition involves a receptive mind and the intelligence of identifying goodness in the action of change. Despite the struggle between keeping up with the asana practice and the desperate need to heal the injury, I started to act wisely in choosing what is best for my body and mind.   The fact that the injury would recur and therefore deter me from practising was like a slap in the face.   It is time that I learnt something out of the box.

Learning does not stop while the asana practice came to a short halt. As a matter of fact, the transient pause in between regular practice gives rise to mental stimulation during which I seriously ponder upon the true flexibility in yoga practice and the possibility to alignwith the spiritual self.  This is the time when our yoga practice extends beyond the physical.

Learning and practice are the reciprocal twins in the evolution of human civilizations. We learn more as the practice grows along; and the practice matures as learning branches out to various dimensions.One of the famous quotes from the Ashtanga guru Pattabhi Jois is ‘practice, practice, practice and all is coming’. Every stratum of the practice brings a different window of knowledge and realisation that make us a better person. There I was sitting at my desk writing the article about learning. My physical body was resting but my mind continued to engage in the acquisition of a deeper meaning of yoga. The breathing space created by this short break from the mat somehow dissolves the boundary as to how much I am capable of learning.  My quest for turth and inner peaceis no longer restricted tomerely the daily asana practice.   I was able to benefit from a different learning platform and realise how the fixation of attitudescan limit and confine the potential to experiment more.

The general conception of the word ‘practice’ is often weighed too much over yogasana which for some practitioners is addictive, including me.  The nature of addiction is paradoxical.  We need to ask ourselves whether the ‘addiction’ is the result of pure devotion and self-determination to follow the lineage of the Ashtanga system or is a compulsion to identity ourselves with the tradition or to fit in with certain social dogma.  As long as we are not trapped in the social status quo and our practice is not delimited by the clichéof modern yoga, we begin to experiment the liberation of thoughts and actions,  the tank of knowledge begins to fill, and positive changes can happen.  Afterall, yoga is a time-honoured personal journey that we seek our own purpose and meaning of the yogi path.

Author:  Dorothy Watts. (can be contacted at: dorothy@yogawith.com ), visit Yogawith to find our more on this

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