No matter what kind of yoga you practice, whether you om, use blocks, stretch naked in your bathtub, or like me, sweat your brains out for 90 minutes, the constant of any yoga practice is that you are doing a practice. Practice, by definition is "to do or perform customarily or habitually." I know this because I just looked it up to win an argument with my 5-year-old. Lucia is taking guitar. I argued that playing Frere Jaques once is not a practice, that it had to be done at least twice, and then I looked up "practice" in the dictionary and won the argument.
"It's hard" Lucia says. "I know honey." I say, "But you still have to practice. It will get harder and easier and harder again and easier again." For me, guitar practice means sitting with Lucia while she lectures about the different parts of the guitar (the bridge, the neck, the frets, the sound hole, the strings....), comments about how my guitar looks different from her's, stops to have a sip of orange juice or just has to stop practicing a minute to tell me this funny story about Greta (her guitar teacher). A ten-minute guitar practice turns into 40 minutes. It takes ever fiber of self-restraint in my body to sit in my chair acting like I am enjoying myself, pretending to be interested in her philosophy of why you use the first or second finger for different strings, smiling through the up-down-up-down-up-up-down strumming exercise, grinding my teeth through the achingly halting rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
The act of practicing anything is a challenge. Try it- practice putting all of your clothes away exactly where they go every night. Practice not swearing. Practice fifteen minutes of morning mediation. Practice hanging up your phone while you drive. Practice anything that doesn't come easily for you. Whether you are adding something or eliminating something, it's like swimming against a current. It's hard. And in the end, so satisfying. For me, nothing is less easy or more uncomfortable than my yoga practice. It is the thing in my life that I love and hate the most. It's hard for me. It makes me mad. And, it makes me so happy, so connected, so grounded. All of it.
For me, the hardness of the practice, the discomfort of it, brings me closer to who I think I am supposed to be. I never feel more like myself than when I am practicing yoga. The idea that something being hard is good is a difficult concept to explain to a five-year-old (I tried), but I think Lucia is subconsciously getting it. After our last grueling practice where Lucia whined and cried and tried to bribe me out of practicing, at the end of it she said, "Mommy, let's do the hard parts one more time." As for me, it's true that, while still painful, at the end of every session of beginning-guitar-hell I feel supremely satisfied and I'm committed to doing it again.