On the path of Yoga, as in life, there’s one thing we can be sure of. That nothing stays the same for very long. And this includes our practices, and the way that they work for us.

The longer I practice, the more I can see the cyclical nature of growth. A couple of times a year, at least, I find myself a bit bored and uninspired, where I don’t feel as much benefit as usual from my time on the mat. Or, as the light of awareness does what it’s supposed to, and shows me yet another layer of subtle resistance, holding, fear, or habit, I find myself at a loss sometimes in knowing how to work with it.

As a ‘teacher’ I think I’m supposed to know everything. Fact is I don’t. And so these are the times when I pray.

I pray that whatever I need to get me through will be provided, be it a teacher, a teaching, a practice, a friend, an experience, or some kind of release.

It’s easy at these times to instead judge the practices, or assume that they don’t really work. Blaming something or someone else is a guaranteed way to avoid having to work on yourself.

I hear my married friends describe something similar in their relationships. Sometimes one or the other partner is going through something, and is a bit stuck or absent, fragile or uncertain. It may not necessarily have anything to do with the other person, but, if either one reacts or freaks out then it becomes a huge rift between the two, and what was already challenging enough for one partner to endure, becomes exacerbated by the fact that now he/she is fighting with his/her partner as well!

The same goes for Yoga. If I’m feeling bored, uncertain, stagnant, doubtful, insecure or any other of the possible vacillations and mind-states that the very practice of Yoga is designed to illuminate, then there’s no point freaking out at Yoga. Yoga is not freaking out at me. It’s just doing its job.

Yoga is a giant umbrella encompassing a zillion different kinds of practices to lead a zillion different people with different capacities, temperaments, and propensities, home to the One same truth. It’s never that Yoga doesn’t work, because Yoga has something for everyone. What is worth investigating from time to time, in the name of growth, is whether or not your current practices are still genuinely working for you? Have they perhaps become so comfortable and safe, providing such a sweet sense of refuge, that you’ve actually started to hide in them?

Is your love of movement actually just masking your fear of being still, and what that might uncover? Or is your love of stillness just masking your fear of wriggling deeper into yet another new layer of ever-more subtle resistance or old hurt? Is your love of prayer and desire to surrender masking your terror of taking action? Or is your love of action masking your terror of just waiting to be moved, at the right time… possibly even letting go to do nothing at all?

The path of Yoga is a minefield, the mind a buried bomb, and we the earnest aspirants, tiptoeing our way through it trying not to get blown up! What I mean is, that we’re using the mind, to overcome the mind. And that is difficult! There are plenty of places on this path to get lost. To detour down some dead-end road, only to have to turn around exhausted and find our way back again. But, it would seem, that that is also the only way. And it might just be that the detours and the setbacks and the dark, lonely nights were just what we needed to set us straight on the path again.

This is why it is of such enormous value to have a trusted, and trustworthy teacher. Not just your everyday Yoga teacher, but someone of sufficient realisation that he/she can ‘see’ you, in a way you cannot see yourself. One who can guide, reflect, inspire and instruct. Having said this, I know that these precious beings do not come along all that often, and that finding the right one is more to do with grace than active searching. But, if desire be the root cause of all action, then we should desire to be blessed by a suitable teacher, whilst leaving the details up to God.

Sri Sakthi Amma 2

In the absence of, or as well as a primary teacher, there are deities or guides from the unseen world, with whom we might naturally connect. And there is always, of course, the satguru, the in-dwelling light of wisdom and knowing that is always guiding us on. I suspect that all of the forces of the universe are ever at the ready to hear us and will re-arrange heaven and earth to bring us Home, if that is what we sincerely desire.

Sometimes though, we need to ask for help.

Om Namo Narayani! Om Gnana Guru Shakti Amma Potri Om!