Just Do Your Best

This is all I ask of students who venture into my Yoga classes. Do your best today; not yesterday’s best and not tomorrow’s best. Do your best today with whatever you have. A sentiment that is out of the norm in a society of full calendars, adrenaline fueled must-keep-going ideology, and do a minimum of 110% all day, err day and if you can’t do that you’ve failed.

Something I notice with students is there’s an expectation for the practice be easy, that they – the student – should be able to do everything from the get-go, that they should be progressing quicker, and every class should always result in a feeling of being extremely relaxed. When those things aren’t happening the student feels distraught. The bar is set so high that students do not allow themselves to be human, and the essence of the practice – being mindful and present – is lost.

Downward-Facing Dog is a great example of students becoming frustrated. The very first Down Dog is uncomfortable – a physical and mental struggle. It can be a big upper cut to the ego. However, overtime the more the posture is practiced there is potential for more ease, which feels like a reward every time it happens. This doesn’t happen every time, though. Some days if feels like you’re back in the first Downward-Facing Dog.

This happens with breath work, single-point concentration, meditation, Yamas, Niyamas…basically, every aspect of Yoga. Yet, no one gives themselves credit for continuing on, even when the path isn’t clear and there’s no pot at the end of the rainbow. There’s no “but at least I tried, at least I showed up.”

Yoga is not about showing up in the way you want or the way you think you ought to. Rather Yoga is about coming to the practice as you are in the moment and using whatever tools you have available, wholeheartedly.

Today I shared this quote with my beginner class. Maybe it will resonate with you.

Divers search in the ocean for pearls; they don’t find them every time. They may have to dive twenty or thirty times in the deep sea to get them – and even then they don’t always succeed. Sometimes they may not find certain pearls for years, although the pearls are there. The diver is doing his duty, but he is not getting a reward. Each of us must likewise make repeated efforts in our own life. Always make an effort. But there should be sincerity in it.
– Swami Rama

Feurerstein, Georg. Yoga Gems: A Treasury of Practical and Spiritual Wisdom from Ancient and Modern Masters.

How do you approach your Yoga practice or any activity/task? Do you expect a “pearl” each time? If you don’t find a pearl, how do you feel and what do you do? Can you accept that you did your best and take pleasure in that knowledge?