Putting In The Effort

By Stephen Ewashkiw | December 15, 2013

8,008 km so far.

I have been so busy teaching yoga while we’ve been in Shanghai that I have handed off blog writing to Jane. I miss writing and I miss sharing my side of our experiences, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day, and my blog posts would be limited to:

I taught yoga today. I like teaching yoga.

Today was a bit different. Yes, I taught yoga. Yes, I like teaching yoga. But this morning I taught a workshop to 50 students at Raja Yoga, which has nine studios spread out around the city. I taught at their main location and was the lead-off teacher for their Yoga Carnival, an all-day pre-Christmas event.

Cause And Effect

The theme for my workshop was one of my favourites: Effort Is Effective. This comes from a book called the Siva Sutras, which is a treatise of yoga theoretically written by Lord Shiva himself. Recently, I came across a translation that was new to me, which translates the verse as:

The yoga student should practice.

I really like how succinct this is. Basically this verse is saying that by practicing, purely by showing up, being present, and trying, all the benefits of yoga will be yours, in time.

In public yoga classes, there are usually some students who do not want to put in the effort. They are there because a friend dragged them, or they thought they should do something healthy but don’t really want to work, or it was a way to get out of the house for an hour. I welcome them all, because I know that just showing up to practice can help spark the curiosity that leads to a love of yoga.

At a weekend workshop, the students are there because they want to work. They are committed to deepening their knowledge of yoga and of themselves. This gives us a great opportunity to work hard, to see how effective effort can be, and to have fun.

Going Inside

Today we worked on letting go of our our desire for perfection in the outer shape of the poses.

This is hard to do, as often in yoga we are busy refining the shape. It is easy to get fixated on this, and think that the point of yoga is to make your pose look perfect.

However, the true work of yoga happens internally, is subtle, and hard to see. We do the poses, we twist and turn and strengthen our body, as an avenue to move inside, where the real work – the hard work – of yoga really takes place.

We had a sweaty, challenging, fun morning and I am already working on plans with the studio come back to Shanghai and lead another practice at Raja in 2014.  

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