The Joy of Acknowledgement

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to see someone else’s progress but how hard it is to recognize your own? As a yoga teacher, I always try to point out the progress I see my students making. It may be something as subtle as a deeper but more relaxed breath — which translates to huge strides down the road. Possibly, it is something more obvious, like being able to balance on their hands in one of the many arm balancing poses.

Believe it or not, the students don’t always seem to acknowledge the progress no matter how obvious it may be. Sometimes, I take a photo to show them the progress I am observing. I did this for one our mysore students this week, pointing out the lovely lines in her trikonasana and utthita parsvokonasana. If they do finally achieve a goal – such as finally getting their foot behind their head in eka pada sirsasana – they are disappointed that they have to hold it in place or it flies off like it’s spring-loaded.

Quite honestly, I am guilty of this myself. Over the last year, my practice has suffered from a number of compounding ailments including finger fractures and shoulder instablity. My focus has been on the struggle to improve but without a lot of notice taken on the steps forward, only the backward shifts that naturally occur in the effort.

Like this new leaf on my monstera plant, new growth is beautiful. Sometimes, these new leaves go unnoticed for a bit as they hide behind the others. But, oh how I love to welcome the newbies into my practice space. They really make me smile.

Back to the topic of yoga: Although somewhat unconsciously, my efforts in not becoming attached to any success have translated to blindfolding me to any progress made in this regard. I think I feared (or maybe expected) that I would lose it again in the next days, weeks, or months. There’s been a lot of that.

In the beginning, this may have been thought to be non-attachment but I now think that the failure to celebrate the successes has lead to less joy in my yoga practice. And I really need JOY right now. I mean, in addition to the joy of seeing new leaves on my plants.

For this reason, I plan to resurect the habit of daily entries in my yoga journal in the month of May with a focus on listing out some wins each day. In the past, regular journalling about my yoga practice has served as a nice way to highlight emerging injuries and track them back seemingly subtle to modifications or added poses. This month, I hope to be able to pay a bit more attention to little steps of progress as well as the coming and going of poses as I continue to work on healing from the injuries of the past year. Currently, I am calling this exercise the Joy of Acknowledgement.

I invite you to do the same and/or share your thoughts in the comments section of this post. 

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