Yoga is an effortless effort.
The effort being your willingness, your openness to experience the depth of your being as you become more and more aware of your presence through the body and the breath. The effortlessness is everything else within the practice: the breath that comes and goes in its own accord, the body’s ability to open and contract as you go from pose to pose.
Yoga is an effortless effort where the two poles of your being merge on the mat, where your individual will and nature’s will come together and enter the temple of the body for a sacred union.
I first fell in love with yoga when I saw for myself where my effortlessness and complete mental non-doing opened my body. I saw that my body did not need to take mental instruction from me to open, but that openness would be the result of me giving in to nature’s way. For years, I was the most inflexible kid in the class, never managing to touch my toes. Seeing how easy this was for others, I would strive to be like them and push myself a few times to reach down. Alas, my body had other plans. I took up yoga and really relaxed mentally into the poses without the ‘need’ to advance, not even ‘wanting’ it. One day to my surprise, I touched my toes. For me, at the age of 16 this was a miracle and what made it so special was that it felt like I hadn’t done anything for it. I had just enjoyed my practice with no goal in mind, but the real pleasure of being present on my mat. Touching my toes felt so easy because there was no mental doing to achieve. I wasn’t mentally trying to open my body. But I was present in my body, to my body.
Effortless effort sounds dualistic, it sounds contradictive and yet deep down, most of us know or feel what it means. During yoga practice, our life is put under a microscope and in the same way that the DNA reveal our entire body, our attitude during practice reveal our patterns and attitude in our daily life and our attitude on the mat, affects how we act away from the mat. We keep an effortless effort during practice, meeting and respecting nature in every pose as we meet our strength and obstacles. We allow our body to be without forcing our will to it to get somewhere, where we believe we will be happier, more flexible, stronger, more open and more successful. Strength and flexibility will come as a result.
This will shape our life to the point that we will be willing to open to life, really living it and opening our eyes to the miracles that are taking place. The more willing we are to experience life in the same way we are willing to experience aware movement on the mat, the more fruit will be showered on us, seemingly out of nowhere. In reality though, in the same way that it was my willingness to practice daily that opened my body, our opening to life will carry miracles. The subtle mistake we are all prone to make though, is to open in order to receive the fruits. Being totally open does not have any motif. It is openness to everything! When I practiced, I didn’t have fingers on toes in mind, it just happened.
Nature’s way is generous, very very generous! You open, it pours and you can see this everywhere including on your mat.