Day 145 – In one fair swoop, embracing the sutra regarding perfectionism and asana, Rolf asks us to make “effortless” our aim. Even in applying all of the yamas and niyamas on the mat, how easy it is for me to feel I am less than perfect in my morning practices. Today, I was reluctant to even do an “active” practice, so sore and tired am I, but I made a point of practicing for 40 minutes instead of my usual 20 or so (mainly, I started this because I take my medicine on an empty stomach and have an hour to kill before my blessed and sacred cup of coffee).
In any case, the sutra Rolf presents to us shows us how our first stumbling block in our practice is that “we try too hard.” In part, this is due to our “cultural baggage that says that we are not enough and never will be.” We think too much, strain to get more out of our practice, and we continue to believe “we can get where we are going through effort.” The magic in the practice for me is I do feel better and particularly the gentler the practice is, so why must I insist on trying those Level 3 postures and infusing them into my classes?
Rolf describes effortlessness in practice as “floating in the center of our postures, the center of our eperience…succeed[ing] by moving into harmony with the moment, our limbs our breath, our awareness.” This is precisely it! Gentle yoga allows me and my exercise-hardened, stiff body to do this.
There is a benefit in power yoga, vinyasa, ashtanga, etc., more physically challenging asana practices, and it is, indeed, fun to move and slow the mind with the ritual of a quick and sweaty practice in order to achieve the bliss that follows. Rolf suggests, however, that we note our tendency to try to hard, our impusle to push past the point inwhich harmony is possible. Noting what is keeping me from backing off and simply holding the posture at a point in which integrated experience is possible and effortlessness is achieved takes practice–daily practice and reflection.
It used to be so simple. I’d dance effortlessly. I’d move effortlessly. I’d practice effortlessly. That same ease came in life–mothering, teaching, studying, running, jumping, etc. I am grateful I can continue all these things still, although not effortlessly, but also that there is a wonderful lesson here contained within. Effortlessness should be my aim.

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