Yesterday I went to yoga with a friend. She's visiting from out of town and, with both of us being longtime yogis, I invited her to join me at my regular Sunday morning yoga class. If you're thinking quiet meditation and gentle stretches, think again. This is 75 minutes of fast movements interspersed with strength poses like arm balancing and handstand, but, thankfully, concluding with Savasanah or corpse pose (can't count the number of yoga instructors that claim this is the hardest pose. Big reveal: it's not). Anyway, before we went in to the studio, my friend, who is a certified yoga instructor, told me she hasn't practiced much lately and she hoped she wouldn't spend the bulk of the class in child's pose, another resting posture. I responded that she shouldn't worry because, "It's your practice." That's the yoga equivalent of a canned answer as we're often counseled in class to do the practice as we see fit, modifying or intensifying poses to meet our needs, with the argument for that being, "It's your practice."
There's a temptation to answer that admonition with, "Duh, of course it's my practice." I'm an adult and if I choose to spend the class taking a nap, well, I've paid my money and my napping isn't going to stop anyone from else from contorting and breathing and chanting, so, naturally, I'm free to do as I see fit. Except I don't and neither do you. We're social beings, desperate to fit in or even excel at whatever the task is; we look around the room and ask ourselves, " Am I doing it right?" We take our cues from each other.
That's good and bad.
Though it's true that my napping in class wouldn't stop anyone else from practicing intensely, it sort of would. My immobile, potentially snoring body would change the energy in the class and that would affect others. John Dunne may not have practiced yoga, but I think he was right in asserting "No man is an island, entire, of itself; every man is a piece of the continent." What you do, even on a minute, essentially, unimportant scale, affects those around you.
This is true both on and off the mat. As creatives, we seek out images of other's creations or take classes to motivate us to try something new and more complicated. If everywhere you looked for inspiration you found a version of the napping yogi, you might not push yourself that hard. Seeing others pushing the boundaries of creativity ignites a desire to be a better sewist/quilter/crafter because that's the prevailing energy.
There's a flip side though and that's what the yoga instructor refers to when he/she says, "It's your practice."
Sometimes when I'm on my mat and, if I'm being honest, it's more times than not, I look around the room and, with my negativity bias fully engaged, ask myself why I can't master that pose or this sequence as well as her across the room or him on the mat beside me. It's at those times that I remind myself that it's my practice. In other words, I need to turn my focus back to me and do what's serving my body, not engage in comparison.
As in yoga, so in life. I love Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook as much as the next gal, but, sometimes, all the "inspiration" is exhausting and I walk away from social media encounters feeling like I'm not keeping up. Worse, I start to gear my work to ensure that I have interesting images to post on a regular basis, ideally every day. That sense is further exacerbated by "helpful" posts on Pinterest about how I can schedule my Instagram posts and what I need to do to bring more people to my site. It's all too much and, most importantly, it's not my practice. Once again, I should turn the focus inward and reengage with my creative curiosity and, whether in the yoga studio or my making space, I'm going to need daily reminders of this.
It is practice after all.