As we get more and more familiar with the physical practice of yoga, we find that we can more easily move into and out of the postures without having to think about them so much, or without having to look around at what the postures should look like. We begin to integrate them into our bodies in a way that helps us to deepen the practice. After a while, certain poses become almost second nature. We simply take the posture when its name is called.
When we reach this place in the practice, we start to feel, to some extent, like we know what we are doing. As with learning anything new, as we gain proficiency, we feel accomplished. Once we think we have “mastered” a pose, our attitude about it can become rigid. We no longer seek to understand the pose, because we already know it. This phenomenon may not be something you have noticed, but it happens to us all.
The best way to see your practice in a new way is to cultivate a beginner’s mind. Be curious about your practice, even if it’s the same practice you have done for many years. Take the time to really listen to your teacher. Follow each cue as though you didn’t already know it. Remember what it was like when you began this practice and you had to really pay attention to understand what you were doing. Then apply that same attention to your practice today.
By reconnecting to a beginner’s mind, yet built upon the foundational knowledge you have already gained, you will find that your practice takes on a whole new feel. Try to experience each posture as new. Feel each breath as though you are still “working on it.” Remember that this practice never ends. There is always more to learn, more to incorporate, and more to understand. And as we understand more about the practice, we understand more about ourselves.