For about five months I was ‘stuck’ on Marichyasana D in the Ashtanga Primary Series – by which I mean until I got a full bind in the pose, that was the furthest I was ‘allowed’ to go. This taught me many valuable lessons, including exercising patience and learning to control my ego!
Marichyasana D is heralded as one of the ‘gatekeeper’ poses in the Primary Series. Basically, for the right side – the right leg is in half lotus, the left in ‘marichyasana’ position, with the right arm wrapped (up to the shoulder!) round the left knee and both hands bound behind you, with a twist so your gaze is behind you. The full expression of the pose – full bind, and leg in half lotus – alluded me for so long. But it taught me so much!
Take the Ego out of Yoga
It is so easy to get caught up in all the vritti (fluctuations of the mind field/thoughts) – from the “oh my god why can’t I bind?” to “I’ll never advance – I’ll be stuck here for the rest of my life!”. But really, realistically, does it really matter? Is it really that important to ‘nail’ a pose and move onto the next one? Does it really matter that people who started way after you are now way ahead of you and gracefully jumping back from titibhasana?
Yoga is about calming the mind and becoming your true self. It’s about removing ourselves from that materialistic, egoistic way of thinking, so really there is no need to compare yourself to others, or punish yourself for what you can or can’t do. When I realised this, and started to internalise my practice and my awareness, focusing only on my breath, I was able to bind. And I didn’t say ‘nailed it!’ and had a party – instead I realised how I was going about it all wrong. Yoga isn’t about achievements or goals; it’s not about material possessions or trophies. Certainly nobody in the shala handed me a prize and patted me on the head, but nor did I want that. Getting frustrated and beating yourself up will not get you anywhere – acceptance and removing the ego from the practice completely may or may not get you further, but by that point it doesn’t really matter and it is a much better place mentally to be!
“Don’t approach yoga with a business mind looking for worldly gain”
Sri K Pattabhi Jois