I have a good friend who started yoga about two years ago. He was naturally skeptical about all the spiritual mumbo-jumbo he associated with yoga but as a body worker, he felt he needed to do something gentle to help heal his own overworked body. So he started to practice yoga, or yogurt as he called it—he refused to even take the name very seriously. And two years later, he’s still doing it because as for many of us, he sees the monumental benefits that come from the small steps of a regular practice.
At first, my friend would scoff at some of the more intense poses like arm balances and the like. Regardless, my friend continued to come to practice and continued to give these challenging poses his best shot because he understood that it’s not the poses that we are trying to achieve, but rather the principles that underlie those poses, principles like not taking yourself so seriously, and ones like even if you think a pose is impossible, show up and give it your best shot anyway. Maybe he has stuck with yoga because these are some of the same principles that he felt he could apply to the practice of living life.
A few weeks ago while I was teaching a challenging pose in class, I looked over and guess who was rocking that pose? It was my skeptical yoga friend who rarely misses my Monday and Friday night classes. As we were enjoying a friends Thanksgiving this past week, my friend was talking to me about his yoga practice. He said in effect, “I have been coming regularly to class for almost two years and have enjoyed taking these small steps, not really even noticing my own growth. Then one day I look at myself and I’m doing a pose that I thought would have been completely impossible when I started doing yoga.” That challenging pose isn’t the point. What’s important is the many small steps that we are making in this moment. The challenging pose is just an interesting mile marker along our path to self-discovery.
The lesson of one small step is a grand lesson for me. Whether in our regular yoga practice or our daily eating habits or regular spiritual practice, it’s the small, daily steps that are the individual bricks that in time build the grand temple. There are truths that can ONLY be learned by regular practice over time. Even if someone told you the answer you would not appreciate nor understand it. You need those small, daily steps.
What is the small step that you can make today? I invite you to commit to some small step that you can make every day or every week that you know will build you into the person you want to become.
I hope to see you in class.