I have a habit of wanting to have all my ducks in a row before I take a step. If I picture myself in a certain place in the future, I want to map out the path to that point. Each image of each step is formed and then lies in my brain, waiting to be accomplished. Every decision is made before I begin. But this level of planning doesn’t make much sense. There’s nothing wrong with planning, but sometimes what we find along the way ends up being far from the plan. Yoga teaches us to plant seeds without expectations, letting those seeds grow into what they’re meant to be.
Yoga Sutra 1.12 teaches that the mind’s whirling state is stilled by practice and dispassion. Dispassion, or vairagya in Sanskrit, is detachment from worldly sense objects, or sensual pleasures. If you eat something that tastes delicious and you attach to that sensory pleasure, you might spend too much of your life seeking out a repeat of that experience. If you walk out of yoga practice one day feeling so good you could float - and you attach to that feeling - you’ll be disappointed if you don’t float after subsequent practices. Vairagya comes up in the Bhagavad Gita, too. To do yoga is to detach from the fruits of our labor, it says. How would your yoga practice feel if you let go of what you might get out of it - out of each class and out of yoga overall? What if you planted the seed by showing up, watered it by practicing, and then watched it grow?
If you started your yoga practice knowing where you wanted to go with it and then mapped out the small goals to achieve along the way to the big goal - you surely would spend a lot of time in a state of disappointment. For instance, if you thought, “In one year, I’ll lose all tension in my hips and shoulders and I’ll be able to do Full Lotus pose and deep backbends; by year 3, I’ll be a pretzel,” surely you’d be wrong. Now, if you set out on that journey toward loosening the tight areas, you would find some loss of tension, some degree of release, some understanding of the way those areas work and what you’d need to do to address them. You would know that unraveling takes a very long time. On the flip side, you would discover hidden gems you never knew existed, jewels beyond belief and comprehension, unearthing inside you. New thought processes and new ways of organizing the body would present themselves. Letting go would go so far beyond the body - your mind, spirit and breath would learn the concept of surrender and the present moment. You would encounter wonders that went way beyond your expectations, tangentially and directly. Practice and detach. Work hard with devotion and let go of results. Who knows into what the seed will grow?