Yoga is everywhere, including in our “worst” habits. It peeks through the things we like least about ourselves, gleaming through the good and the bad sides, and reminding us that there’s always a new breath, a different practice, another morning, a different attitude to take. (I put worst in quotation marks above because I think that everything we do can teach us something, and so in that sense, everything has a positive side.)
Some teachers (including some of my most cherished ones) will say, when you tell the about something that’s hard for you or that’s bothering you, “That’s your yoga,” meaning that’s where your greatest potential to grow lies. My yoga right now, then, is to figure out a way to productively shift the beast of procrastination. I’m a graduate student, so my work is never done, and in that sense, procrastination comes with the territory (especially when the weather is as lovely as today’s, a sun-drenched, leaf-dappled paradise after all the rain).
As procrastinators go, I’m not a really serious one – I get my tasks done usually before deadline – but sometimes when I have more than one item to finish off, I notice myself gravitating toward the less urgent one, or toward a mini yoga practice, or toward seeing what the cat is up to. Other times, I notice that when I do things in the moment, I expend a lot less energy on them. I don’t have to think about them as much, or feel guilty that I’m putting them off. I can use that energy, as my mother used to say (lovingly but rightly), instead of wasting it.
Given all this, Leo Babauta’s recent post on procrastination is really getting my brain and heart going. (Ironically, I found it last week but put off closely reading it until today.) A self-described “simplicity blogger & author,” Babauta describes procrastination in a lovely way that echoes the good/bad, yin/yang, perception-based dynamic which with I started my musings:
“Procrastination is a friend (or a beast, depending on how you feel about it) that we all live with. It lurks behind us constantly, insinuating itself into the crevices of our mind, intimating its will through malevolent hints and obscure looks and barely audible whispers and glancing allusions.”
Calling procrastination the “serpented bringer of apprehension,” as Babauta does later in his post, links it to the clearest representation of a snake in yoga: the serpent that, in yoga science and mythology, lies at the base of the spine, drawing out of the intertwined lines of energy flowing in and around the body. This image comes from the Yoga Upanishads, which you can read for free online here. When this (your!) serpent is unleashed, there’s no telling what wonderful personal power will unfold into your life and into the world.
And how about this idea with which Babauta ends? “The main challenge will be to be mindful of my urges to go to distraction, to run from discomfort, when I’m supposed to be doing something.” That’s yoga right there! Being mindful and in the moment, breathing ourselves through challenges, doing now what we could put off until tomorrow, is part of the essence of this ancient practice.
Hilarie Ashton received her 200-hour Vinyasa teaching certification from Laughing Lotus Yoga Center. She is also trained in inversion techniques and hands-on assisting. She is so grateful to Nadia for the opportunity to teach at such a wonderful studio. Her teaching style is energetic and playful with a dose of calm.
When not teaching yoga or doing kickboxing training, she is an English PhD student at CUNY Grad Center, where her focus is composition/rhetoric and memoir. Hilarie received her MA from New York University and her BA from Williams College.