Stop Procrastinating and Dive into Life

So many of us succumb to procrastination in our day-to-day lives, which is essentially allowing that which matters most to give way to that which matters least. Even in yoga class, we mull over what we should’ve said in an earlier argument, repeat and re-repeat mental grocery lists, and wonder self-consciously if anyone noticed that giant zit that popped up this morning. All of this is just procrastination that prevents us from being present to the real work: the svadyaya (self-study), the dharana (concentration), and the dhyana (meditation). Just as with any other work we procrastinate from, this stuff is often scary, uncomfortable, and exhausting. Anything that that spurs wild transformation usually is.

As Rusty Wells always said in class when I practiced with him years ago (and he probably still does): “If nothing ever changes, nothing ever changes.” Next time you’re in yoga class, your mantra is, “I prioritize that which matters most in this moment.” Mental chatter is definitely going to come up, but instead of indulging in it, you notice it as an observer rather than a participant. What do you cling to? What are your recurring thoughts? When is there the most mental chatter? When is there tranquility? Distraction is going to come up too. That’s an another opportunity for svadyaya. As one of my dear teachers, Les Leventhal, always used to point out: we never stop take a sip of water or fix our hair in the poses that we love. Notice.

Once you start diving into your yoga practice, you’ll find that the habits you develop start spilling over into the rest of your life too. You run for what matters most rather than lolling about in what matters least. You seize the day. You savor the richness of each moment.

Life is love - enjoy it. -Sai Baba

Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it. -Sai Baba

On the internet, there is widespread disagreement who wrote the following poem, so if you know who the author is please let me know!

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.
– Unknown

Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness. – Karen Nave

On a lovely weekend getaway to the peaceful ocean-side Carmel, California, my personal photographer (i.e. my husband, Richard) was snapping some shots of me doing some poses on the rocks along the beach. There must have been a airedale terrier meetup group at the beach that day, because there were fifteen or twenty of them nearby playing with each other, digging up sand, and retrieving balls from the water. Being in front of a camera brings out my inner perfectionist as I wrack my sensations to find my alignment and relax my face into a photogenic hint-of-a-smile. Just as I’d found one of my picture-perfect positions, one of the terriers jumped up onto the rocks to interrupt my posing and give me a moment of real yoga:

Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness. - Karen Nave

Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness. – Karen Nave

This focus on perfecting the physical aspects of the poses can also take over our practice on the mat. But the real yoga is not the shape the body takes, or the precise alignment, or the even serene facial expression. The yoga is the sukkha, the joy, the svadyaya, the self-study, the dharana and dhyana, the concentration and meditation. None of these come from a focus perfection—they come from cultivating acceptance. They come from a willingness to be who you are, where you are, what you are. Don’t get so caught up practicing the poses that you forget to practice the yoga.