Yoga in a Digital World
My partner Matt and I live in the middle of nowhere. Yesterday, we needed to find the local flower nursery, which is outside of town, also in the middle of nowhere. I picked up my iPhone, typed in the address, got directions, and we arrived at our destination twenty minutes later. Easy breezy.
Much of life feels like this. In need of directions? Your iPhone will supply the route immediately. Don’t have time to buy groceries? Order them online and have it delivered to your doorstep. Want to get your hands on the new Bjork CD? Download it immediately to your computer via iTunes. Almost anything we need or want is a simple click away. Have you heard about the new Amazon Prime Air? Same day delivery by Amazon drones in 30 minutes or less. Modern technology supplies us with instant gratification constantly. In turn, we’ve become comfortable, content, and quite possibly a bit lazy.
How does this apply to yoga? It doesn’t! All instant gratification rules go out the window, much to the dismay of trigger happy humans.
When I first started practicing Ashtanga yoga, I coasted through easily until I was given the posture Marichyasana D. When you see Mari D for the first time, it looks simple enough. When you try to twist your body into Mari D for the first time, you quickly realize that it’s freakin’ hard! My immediate inclination was to google this posture, read about it, watch videos, and dissect it piece by piece. Surely this would make Marichyasana attainable the next time I got on my yoga mat.
This posture took many months of solid practice and dedication in order to make headway. Progress was slow! There were no leaps or bounds on my journey to Marichyasana D, only hard work and consistent effort. At first this was infuriating! I didn’t have the ability to revel in my small achievements along the way, I only felt discouraged by my inability to achieve this posture in it’s entirety. No matter how much I read or how many videos I watched, it took time. Lots of time. Eventually I was able to let go of my need for instant gratification, accept my limitations, and let Marichyasana D happen when my body was ready. Even so, the elation of having finally achieved such a difficult posture was short lived.
Looking back, it now seems so silly that I assumed a yoga posture would come easily. Why was my first reaction to google search “How to do Marichyasana D?” Why didn’t I immediately assume that dedication, hard work, and consistent practice was essential to spiritual progress?
Unfortunately, we’ve moved in a different direction. Rather than feeling discomfort, we’ve made everything easily attainable as a means of avoidance. We’ve been taught that discomfort is bad, so we allow ourselves to replace that feeling with constant access to creature comforts. Yet there are a few areas left in which this escape tactic doesn’t work… Yoga is one of them.
The yogic path is long and sometimes arduous. Discomfort is felt often. There is no way to escape the work that needs to happen. You can’t google search your way out of Supta Kurmasana and you can’t buy drop backs on Amazon. Nothing is instant within the yoga practice, and the gratification of progress means little. The intention and the work towards self betterment is most important. Also, learning to be exactly where you are, even amidst discomfort, will help you to attain your spiritual quest.
Moral of the story? Many things have become easily accessible with the advancements of technology. Luckily, a few have remained untouched. Quit googling yoga 'How To's' and start practicing... That's where the real learning happens. And enjoy the process as you go.