Practice Makes Perfect Permanent
I’m writing this post on my 40th birthday. You know, the age many of us thought of as “the beginning of being old,” when we were 19 (or whatever age we think such stupid things.) 19 sticks out though, because it’s exactly the number of years that I’ve been practicing yoga. Nearly half my life now.
If I had to name the shortest list of things I’m thrilled to have done, committing to this practice hovers near the very top. It’s one of my longest-standing commitments, and I expect it always will be.
And I’ll tell you, it’s not because yoga is always thrilling. I don’t always feel amaaaaazing on my mat. Um, I don’t always feel awake on my mat. It doesn’t matter.
The reason why I’m so in love with this practice is because, no matter how many times I fall down, get in a slump, or bury a shit day in beer and pizza (it happens, y’all)–this practice is always, ALWAYS there the next day to say, “hello. Welcome back. Now let’s get back to remembering who you are.”
And then it comes back. With the first intentional breaths I start to move toward all the fragments of myself that have gotten away from me, to “dive into the wreck” as poet Adrienne Rich described it, and to suture those pieces back together, to smooth over the seams. The practice gives myself back to me.
And it makes me remember that the whole reason to commit to something–be it yoga, or cooking, or good communication with your family–is not to become perfect at it. And it’s not to become perfect BECAUSE of it. Though it’s tempting to think, “I’ll do yoga and then I’ll never yell at anyone or have the desire for carbs again!” …well. As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, that’s just not how it goes. We mess up. We fall down. We fall down seven times. We get up eight times. I think the getting back up, and whatever it was that compelled you to try to get back up–I think that’s the essence of what yoga really is.
So yes, I feel I’ve done this long enough to say: a long-standing commitment to yoga practice doesn’t lead to “perfect.” But it does tend to lead to permanence. The things we do over and over again–even if we miss some days or weeks here and there, even if we only do them half-heartedly some of the time–end up making us who we are. They form the path our lives follow. Listen, everyone strays from the path. The fact that you know you have one to get back on though? That means something. Sometimes it means everything. Sometimes it’s the whole point of having this life at all.
As spring unravels itself before us, we hope you’re finding time to commit the things that call you back to a life you’re happy to be living. Keep doing them, imperfectly and often, over and over again.
Much love and thanks for reading,
Erin H./Grassroots Yoga