One recent morning I woke up and decided it would be nice to get out of town for the day and go for a drive to the beach. It was hot and I felt like a dip in the ocean. Eli (my fiancée) and I quickly booked a zip car and hit the road bound for Fire Island. (By the way if you don’t know about zip car – you should – it’s the perfect alternative to owning a car in nyc). I’ll make a long story short here and just say that after a couple hours of driving around, following detours, and looking for the perfect place to go for a swim, it was quickly becoming late afternoon and still we hadn’t found what we were looking for. It turns out you need a ferry to get to Fire Island, and we just didn’t have the time to do it all and make it back by evening. So in the end we decided to go to Long Beach, where we lounged for about an hour on the beach, and I finally did get my swim in the ocean. It was less time at the beach than I was hoping for, but it was lovely.
As I sat on the sand drying off and pondering the day, an old expression that we’ve all heard so many times popped into my head: ‘it’s not the destination, it’s the journey’.
That same expression I believe holds true for yoga. When we practice yoga there can sometimes be an overly acute desire to perfect our postures and achieve the next level in our practice. This is a good instinct certainly, as it keeps propelling us forward and progressing us into a deeper knowledge of both the practice and of ourselves. Having said that though, it is important to remember that we are there for the journey and not simply for the destination.
When I first began practicing I recall looking around the room and inevitably comparing myself to those around me. How did their posture look compared to mine? How can I make mine better? Or perhaps you’ve perused some of the great books on yoga and marveled at the full expression of certain postures, and wondered if you will ever achieve that level. Then, with time and sustained practice, the realization sets in that yoga is truly unique to each individual, and that we need only focus on our own intention and most truthful work ethic in order to progress in our own practice.
One of the ironies I find in yoga is that we work so hard in order that we might surpass some of the difficulties we experience as we move through the postures, and yet it is precisely that difficulty and challenge that we seek, and that keeps us coming back for more. Once we truly accept the idea that it is the journey and not the destination, the pressure and expectation we put on ourselves can dissolve, and you are free to explore your own practice and enjoy the fruits of your own efforts.
Nicholas (aka Nico) is a film guy living and working in New York City. Originally from California, he settled in NYC after working and studying abroad for a number of years in the field of International Relations. Seven years (and a massive career change) later, he continues to enjoy a lifestyle full of work, travel and diverse cultural experiences.
Nico discovered yoga about a decade ago while living in San Diego, and has since carried the practice with him. He enjoys not only the physical component but finds the philosophy behind yoga to be very rich and beneficial. Nico also loves to surf and to cook.
He lives with his lovely fiancée Eli (and their fish Patrick), and they will be married this coming January in Miami.
Eli has an awesome blog. ThompsonandPrince