Mrdu Madhyadhimatratvat Tato'pi Visesah. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali book 1, Sutra 22.
I've been studying the Yoga Sutras with Kino MacGregor on OmStars for the past month and I've been loving it because Kino has a way of explaining what seems very complex in a very simple and straight forward way. Yesterday I watched the newest episode, Sutra 1.22, as stated above. It was the best timing for me because I've been feeling on edge about my practice, feeling like I want to push more and go further and progress and go, go, go! BUT as soon as I'm on my mat my instincts slow me down and make my practice softer because, well, it just feels so good. I've been wanting to join a mysore class because I want to go deeper but then my other half is telling me that if I do that then I will be told to practice more traditionally and my modifications may go out the window and well.. I end up practicing at home. So I watched this last episode about five times and decided to write about it because when I write I study and manage to explore the words on a deeper level so here is what I got from this Sutra and how it resonated with me.
In this Sutra, Patanjali is saying that the intensity of your practice determines the time it takes to find "success" in the practice (whatever that "success" means to you, higher states of consciousness, peace of mind, Purusha). Whether you practice with a hard-core, extreme level of intensity or a very mild, floating along level of intensity, the "end result" is no different. It doesn't matter how long you decide to give yourself to come to that point and experience Purusha, the true Self, higher states of consciousness, you can be a mild, medium or extreme practitioner and it doesn't change anything about the "end result". So take your time. Enjoy the journey, there's no need ever to force anything. Similarly if you're an extreme practitioner there is no need to slow down, if you like the intensity and it suits you and resonates with your soul then by all means, fly along the path! This Sutra is here to let all yogis know that there is no correct spead or time limit given for the practice, it's a practice of a lifetime, it is personal and the yogi has the freedom to decide whether they want to glide, skip, hop or sprint along their spiritual path. And remember, even if you do sprint along and come to practice the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th series of Ashtanga, there is never an end to the practice anyway. There's no prize given out at the end because it's not a competition and there is no end. Once you experience the eternal peace from the practice, what's next? Practice. Continue to experience the eternal peace. Continue to explore it. Continue to share it. There is no end to the practice so whether you find this peace after 5 years, 15 years or 50 years, it doesn't change. The peace is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Your path is yours and you make it as long as you want and walk along at the pace that speaks to you.
I've been hard on myself recently thinking that I "should" be going further, that I "should" be challenging myself more to progress faster in the asanas and control of the bandhas and breath and as a result experience a deeper meditation in my practice and improve my ability to sit still and to keep my mind free from disturbances etc.etc.etc.
Then the Universe decided to send me this Sutra right when I needed to hear it and it sat so deep in my heart when I heard it the first, second, seventh time that I decided everyone needs to understand the meaning of these words. So... to all you yogis out there who are being a little itsy bitsy bit hard on yourselves, well, don't. Breathe. Sit. Be. And take your time. The path is endless. Beautiful. Inspiring. Enjoy it. Trust the process. Have faith in the practice. All is coming.