Week 3: Practice your plan, Plan your Practice – Effort

Our yoga practice is a great canvas for us to explore and learn about effort. Poses show us when we are straining or giving up. Breath reveals the quality of our ease. Our mind can be the birth place of our effort and where we cultivate sustainable effort, aka focus.

This week the them for our practice is “Effort.”

In yoga philosophical terms it can be seen as Tapas – or discipline, dedication and devotion. But I would like us to look at it in terms of a tangible energy we can feel.

We are also choosing four postures (asana) to practice each day. They are 1) one-legged balancing pose; 2) arm balancing pose; 3) inversion; 4) back bending.

I chose for myself: Half Moon, Dolphin, Crane and Reclining Half Hero

Please choose a posture you would prefer if you don’t want to or have a contraindication for any of the ones I’ve chosen.

Dolphin

Sit an reflect for a moment. What is effort? What do we put effort toward? How do we do it?

What do we deem worthy of our effort?

I notice I tend to refer to effort in terms of value. Is it worth my effort? Is the effort worth my time, or money or… fill in the blank.

Our yoga practice is a great canvas for us to explore and learn about effort. Poses show us when we are straining or giving up. Breath reveals the quality of our ease. Our mind can be the birth place of our effort and where we cultivate sustainable effort, aka focus.

If effort were a gas pedal, do you know what 10 mph feels like? 22? 90? Does it feel different in different poses your body takes on? Does it feel different in your breath? How about your thoughts? The more effort, does your mind become more intense? Does intensity of effort mean a loss of equilibrium or equanimity?

Remember, our journey is one where we are seeking balance or “sattva.” Not too hot. Not too cold.

If we take our examination of “effort” off the mat, do we place an ROI (return on investment) on our effort? Do we expect something in return always? A one-for-one exchange with people? with kindness? with forgiveness? with rest?

How does the one-for-one exchange mindset hinder our exploration of effort in our day-to-day lives? If we say we desire peace in our lives, how much effort do we put into it?

Developing an attention muscle or an effort muscle is a part of this journey. It must be exercised. It must be set into motion. If it isn’t used to being practiced, just like everything else, it’s new and different and awkward. We’re not bad at efforting. We are just new at it.

Take a moment and think about some things you always say you:

  • Are bad at
  • Don’t have patience for
  • Have never done
  • Don’t like
  • Are not good at

How often have you reapproached them and explored them patiently?

What was holding you back? Your expectation? Are you only envisioning yourself executing with perfection?

For example, say you feel you’ve never “been good at” hand stands.

Sounds natural unless you walk on your hands regularly. It’s unfamiliar. But when you tried or put effort into it, did you get familiar with your hands and arms supporting weight or did you try to lift your legs first? Where was your effort placed? Did you put effort where it needed to be to explore the parts that needed to be learned – support first.

If you are joining us this week, add effort to your yoga plan – what you are practicing. Choose four poses. Join us at 10:30 a.m. each morning or hit replay in the playlists.

Explore effort and see what gets revealed to you.

Effort toward growing, creating, seeing, loving… releasing.

See you on the mat.

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