"Practice and all is coming"
The famous words spoken by the late Sri K. Pattahbi Jois, quoted many times by Ashtangis around the globe. It sounds simple, but on further inspection the questions start to arise… what is the ‘all’ to which he refers? What does this even mean for my yoga practice? Before I delve into this question, let me draw your attention to Yoga Sutra 1.14:
SA TU DIRGHA KALA NAIRANTARYA SATKA-RASEVITO DRDHABHUMIH
Translated: Practice that is done for a long time, without break and with sincere devotion, becomes a firmly rooted, stable, and solid foundation.
The key words for me are “sincere devotion.” I believe our level of devotion to our practice is the key to understanding what this “all” is about. Through my practice, I realize what “Practice and all is coming” means for me. Yoga practice is an individual experience. You can read about it, talk about it, watch YouTube videos and see it on Instagram… But the only way we can understand it fully is by experiencing the practice.
When I first began learning how to practice yoga my intention was purely for physical benefits. I loved the act of “working out,” yoga was an outlet to move my body and feel healthy. My practice had begun. I devoted my earnings, time, and energy to yoga classes. I thought to myself, “Wow! I like yoga! And I think I’m good at it! I think I got it!”
Then suddenly it hit me like a freight train- my first fearful obstacle in the practice: headstand (sirsasana). Much like my experience with ballet, I loved yoga for the potential to gracefully move from posture to posture. But when it came to swinging my hips over my shoulders and going upside down, my lack of gymnastic skills coupled with this difficult new maneuver scared me.
I was lucky to have the guidance of my teachers to help me understand that sirsasana was possible (I cannot express enough how important it is to have a teacher.). I could have given into the fear and just walked away from yoga because of this dreaded posture. But because of the support and knowledge of my teachers and being able to witness my fellow practitioners attempt and conquer their fears of sirsasana, I stuck with the practice. I began to believe in myself. I fell over, but I picked myself back up. With patience, faith, and devotion I practiced.
After practicing sirsasana again and again, failing many, many times, I finally was able to balance upside down. Without the wall and without my teacher spotting me, the “all” began to appear for me. For me, sirsasana was not only a physical practice. It represented my ability to gain self confidence, find mental and physical strength that I never knew existed in me, and find courage to take responsibility of my own actions in life.
Finding what “Practice and all is coming” means for me does not stop at my experience in being able to balance in sirsasana. Because of my devotion, faith, and patience in my ongoing practice, I am able to experience more surprises of this beautiful phrase. I’ve conquered fears. I’ve opened up my heart. I even faced my deepest demons and spoke to the cosmos.
This practice has given me the ability to shake conditioned parts in my body by opening and releasing the inner portals of my true self. So the phrase, “Practice and all is coming” will depend on your devotion. Your “all” will be what you make it. It may be purely physical and that’s completely okay. What you put in will define what this “all” means for you. Your devotion, quality of practice, faith and patience will reveal itself to you.
To find what this “all” means for you requires experiential verification in your practice. It’s all yours. Your divine individual experience to see where the practice can take you. This experience can be good, great, or unimaginable depending how much devotion, patience and faith you put forth. You must decide how far you want to experience it for yourself.
By: Joy Tiu