Strength in the yoga practice is never just about the physical. Instead it’s a mental strength that prepares you for life’s greatest challenges. You need to be as strong as your dream is big.
Diana Nyad is a sixty-four year old American woman who swam 110 miles over 53 hours in open water from Havana, Cuba to the Florida Keys, without a shark tank. While this feat is truly amazing and demonstrates great strength and endurance, what I find even more amazing is that she has been trying since 1978. It took her 35 years to complete her dream. Many other people who have much smaller dreams give up long before they have tried for 35 days, much less 35 years.
What Yoga Practice Is Really About
Practicing yoga is about finding the strength and determination to stay through hardship and adversity until your dream comes true, whatever that might be. The yoga practice starts off small by presenting postures that are simultaneously challenging and inspirational, and then asks you to transform yourself by committing to the work of daily practice.
Think about a posture like headstand. Some lucky people balance on their first try, but others work on headstand for months or even years before finding balance. If you quit yoga or attempting headstand, then the posture will never happen. But if you work steadily at your practice, sooner or later the results will naturally flow.
Winning A Race vs. Finishing The Marathon
The real work of the yoga practice happens when you are challenged, not when it is easy. I like to think of the yoga practice more as a marathon rather than a sprint. Whatever you can do fast in yoga is something that you will take for granted, but what really counts is what you will work towards over many unsung hours in the private space of your yoga mat.
The strength and steadiness of mind that the yoga practice gives you is a valuable life skill that you can apply to any personal goal. When you watch the powerful moves of the Ashtanga Yoga method it’s easy to be inspired. I certainly was when I first started the practice and I still am today. But what’s harder, and perhaps more meaningful, is when you learn that it may take you more than 30 years to master some of the postures and you commit yourself to the journey, no matter how long it takes.
Eventually, your yoga practice will embody and reflect your dream to live in an eternal state of true and lasting peace. And when you are ready for that dream, you should be prepared to give it every single ounce of spiritual strength you have.