My practice sucked today. I am afflicted with some form of low grade allergy/cold, which causes my nose to run like a leaky faucet. Really, it’s only a minor annoyance, but I find that whenever I feel the least bit poorly, the experience heightens and worsens when I get on the mat. It’s been a drag-ass sort of morning–to be honest, it’s been a drag-ass several days–with a quiet, overcast sky. It took quite a bit of willpower to get to the mat at all, and when I did, it was to soon feel very crummy. It wasn’t too long before I ditched my flow plans in favor of viparita karani (elevated legs-up-the-wall) with extra chest-opening action to help me breathe more freely. That worked pretty well. There was no way I was subjecting myself to alternate nostril breathing, so instead I just settled into meditation. Well, I settled my body into a seated meditative posture. Though I likely looked calm and collected on the outside, the rest of me carried on feeling crummy. The heart-opening action of viparita karani allowed me to get in touch which the fact that along with feeling sickly, I also feel stuck and sad. The impulse to bolt from the cusion was strong, but instead of giving in, I convinced myself to just stay there, and to soften around the feelings that were coming up. I bolted out of there gratefully when I heard the chime announcing the end of my meditation time, but still, I had stayed the course. It might seem like a very puny victory to have successfully sat on a zafu for 16 minutes, but I’ll take it.

I am a passionate knitter.  There are several kinds of knitters, the two main types being product-oriented knitters and process-oriented knitters. Product-oriented knitters are primarily driven by the thought of having finished projects to wear or give away. As a process knitter, I am more interested in being engaged in the act, the process of knitting. I had a conversation recently with someone who is married to a knitter, and said that it shocked and hurt him to watch his wife rip back dozens of rows when she’d found a mistake. All that work for nothing! But to the process knitter, after the initial short pang of pain when one realizes the mistake, ripping back is no big thing because although it may appear as though we wasted time knitting all those rows that will be lost, the whole time we were knitting we were enjoying the activity, enjoying the process, and this cannot be lost.

A yoga practice can be much like this. There are days, sometimes whole weeks when it feels like ripping back rows. But, like the process knitter, what the yogi or yogini wants is to be engaged in the process of practicing yoga. Great practice days are just that–they are great. But we trust that the process is larger and more important than what happens on the mat on any given day. Ninety percent of a successful practice is showing up and being present to what you encounter on the mat. On a day like today, dragging myself to the mat, being easy on myself, and being present to my runny nose and feelings of stuckness and sadness is my practice. Not that it really feels like it. But I am grateful for the lessons of knitting, that I can at least talk myself (and write!) into believing that it is so.

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