Beginning and Practice

On the first day of each month, one thing I look forward to doing is reading The Mat’s monthly newsletter with my morning cup of coffee. As I thought about what to write this month, it occurred to me my mind was in a similar space as two recent months’ themes. Those themes were practice and beginner’s mind.

So why did these themes resonate with me? Well, between the spring equinox, entering the second quarter (and a solar eclipse to boot!), right around now seems like a great time to still consider being, well, a beginner. We might still be at the start of those goals we set at the new year and some of these new goals take not just work, but practice to keep going.

There also may be things that have come up that change the practice we may have had in mind. For me, for example, I had a bit more of a busy spring than I first thought, including some nearly back-to-back travel. This meant I didn’t make it to my mat as much as I would have liked.

This is where the beginner’s mind came to me: I felt a bit more stiff and came to realize I had some strength to build back up to after longer stretches between class. But I reminded myself that there in class that hour, I needed to focus on how I felt right then in the moment and not think about where I was last week when I got three classes in. What this also meant was I adjusted the pose to meet myself where I was that day and not last week. So yes, maybe it meant that I didn’t do all the chaturangas, but instead I held plank to slowly try building back some strength or tried a baby cobra after a modified plank. Each class was a beginning in that way.

And so practice comes to play, not just physically, but mentally practicing treating each class on its own. I admit it’s taken some practice to get here! Years ago I might have thought, why am I tired from this now? Last week I could do all the warrior IIs with a deeper bend, or some such other thought. But approaching each class as a stand alone class – without thinking of last week’s or next week’s class – allows me to consider how I’m showing up that day. This helps me get more out of it and even enjoy it more.

Practice and beginner may not seem related, since practice is ongoing and at some point, we’re not beginners anymore. But if we can approach the ”thing,” be it class or that new year’s goal we’re working towards, with a beginner’s mind, then I feel like we might be able to more readily accept changes as we continue to practice.

This is the part of a series of posts for The Mat Yoga Studio, sharing my thoughts and observations as a student only. The views and opinions are my own experience.


Patricia returned to Texas after spending several years on both coasts. She's a writer, amateur photographer and traveler.

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