Anyone who knows me well knows that patience is not one of my strongest qualities. From since I can remember I was told "more haste, less speed" on a daily basis at school and I've always wanted things to happen faster. Generally speaking I've eaten dinner before it's on the plate, finished a drink before anyone else has started theirs (many dates will attest to this!) and I'm just completely useless at waiting for anything.
I'm learning (obviously slowly) that this isn't always the best way to live your life and that actually by being more patient and mindful you can take in a lot more things than if you're madly rushing about trying to fit 100 things into a day as fast as you possibly can. And you've guessed it - that all-encompassing yoga is helping me to develop more patience as a person.
I go to a type of yoga called Mysore style as many mornings as possible before work, which is the traditional way of practising ashtanga (a set sequence of physical postures) and involves you rocking up to a class between an allotted time and carrying out your own self-practice, whilst being adjusted by teachers.
When you go to one of these classes the teacher will tell you where you can continue to within the sequence and until your body is ready you don't go any further. The point of this being that each posture is preparatory for the next and if you're having difficulty with one then your body is not ready to continue. For many people it's a battle with their ego as they believe they should be going further or are frustrated at their body for not allowing them to advance. Especially as you look around the room at people bending into unfathomable postures that you could only dream of ever being able to get into.
For me currently my stopping point is Marichyasana C. This might not mean much to you but Marichyasana D to me is a tangle of limbs combined with a twist that looks like something the body shouldn't be able to do or at least mine anyway.
If someone had of told me when I first started going to this class in February that I wouldn't have moved further in the sequence four months later I probably would have just walked out and never returned. Why on earth would I want to do the same thing nearly every day for four months and not move on? But the fact is, I now don't want to go further in the sequence. I know my body isn't ready for it yet and I'm actually enjoying where I'm currently at in my practice. I know if I stick at it I'll be told I can move to the next set of postures, but right now that's irrelevant to me.
You may also be thinking if I haven't managed to go any further in the sequence over four months then I haven't really progressed. In actual fact my whole yoga practice has completely changed and every day I return I can feel my body deepening in every posture. I couldn't even move my back in forward folds in February, now I'm starting to touch my head on my leg in some postures. My hamstrings are no longer unmalleable muscles, it really is possible to stretch the un-stretchable and my closed hips, well they still need a bit more love.
I can genuinely see my practice growing day-by-day and doing things I never thought my body would be capable of. And if and when my body is ready, I'll move on, but right now I'm just going to do my very best at being patient and enjoy just being right here, right now...