Same and DifferentJan 11, 2023
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man
- Heraclitus, Greek philosopher
I doubt Heraclitus ever had to deal with the problem of getting bored in yoga, but he certainly had some brilliant insight into how to keep a practice fresh and interesting.
On the one hand, the postures we practice might seem to be the same. The forms we regularly practice become familiar to us over time. This repetition and familiarity are helpful because it allows us to build a relationship with them. Like a good friend, we can rely on our practice to be there to support us.
On the other hand, no matter how many thousands of times we might practice Downward-Facing Dog, it’s never quite the same Dog pose because we are never the same.
Our starting point, where we meet the pose—in body, mind, and spirit—is always different, as is our capacity. Therefore, if we’re paying attention, our experience of the pose will always be different as well.
You can develop your ability to capture the uniqueness of each moment in your practice by taking time at the beginning to become present by attuning to your breath or simply observing what’s going on in your body and mind without judgement.
During practice, you can do the same by choosing a point of focus for each pose. This might be your breath, a part of your body, such as your hands in Downward-Facing Dog, or even a specific action, like firming your thigh muscles in a Standing Forward Bend.
Honing your ability to bring a fresh eye and new awareness to familiar postures allows new insight and discovery each time you practice them. In this way, your practice starts to feel new every time, because it is!
Opening to the perpetual newness of our experience in yoga builds our capacity to meet the moments of our lives with this same presence and attention. It’s a delightful and rich way to take your yoga off the mat.