I often tell my yoga students that the hardest part of class is getting there—getting on your mat to practice. But no matter how difficult it might have been (aligning those stars to get there), you’re always glad you came, feeling much better than when you arrived.
The good news is that yoga isn’t limited to the studio and requires next to no equipment in order to practice. This is good news for me, considering my work days are long. Having the luck to be able to teach both of my life’s passions: tennis and yoga, and on a good day, yoga for tennis. I can practice anywhere; on and off the mat, or on and off the tennis court. On a bad day I might not know where I am until I look at my feet and see tennis shoes or bare feet!
For those reasons I am grateful that I don’t have to wait for the luxury of attending a proper class in order to practice yoga. I practice postures between classes and clients in order to restore myself and as I find myself needing balance on a physical level, I am reminded that there is more to yoga than the asanas we take. Having developed good discipline and concentration through asana, theoretically I am ready for meditation, or at least ready to put into practice the limbs following asana in the eightfold path of yoga.
On a tennis court these limbs come to me naturally as I synchronize my breath with my strokes (pranayama—breath practice). I am able to drown out anything and everything surrounding the lines of the court while engaging in competition (pratyahara—withdrawal of the senses). What matter is here right now—this shot, this point (dharana—concentration). And when I can combine these states of mind I experience a sense of being “in the zone”—having become the ball myself, and reaching my maximum potential in a state where I feel most alive (dhyana—meditation).
Dhyana is meditation and I struggle with all of the limbs leading up to it off the court. Like any other sport or discipline it must be practiced and often times the biggest difficulty is making the time to sit without interruption. I don’t sit often, usually finding myself on the opposite ends of the spectrum—running around the court, roaming the studio, or completely collapsed at the day’s end. As I strive for balance I will follow my own advice and just get myself to sit and stay a while, on or off the mat, to reflect upon and experience the other limbs of yoga.