The practice of yoga, while generally thought to bring about an automatic sense of peace and connection, does not inherently bring about peace, connection or patience. This is because the intention, or the mind, is such a powerful force that it will determine the outcome of any action, including yoga.
We can easily justify our impatience in daily life events but may be surprised that our yoga isn’t bringing us patience. We expect to feel better, be better after we practice yoga or because we practice yoga. And here-in lies the crux; Expectation.
When we practice from a place of expectation – “I did this pose so well yesterday; I expect to be even better today!” – we leave no room for patience. In order to cultivate patience we must first make it the mindful intention of the practice.
Putting Patience into Practice
In order to come to your practice with patience, first sit quietly and notice any existing expectations, judgments or resistances. Then practice releasing these things by stripping away any labeling and by mentally neutralizing any positive and negative thoughts.
Practice simple and humble asanas such as child’s pose, seated forward bends and prostrations. Feel into the bow of these asanas and how they can facilitate a sense of humility. When the pose is physically easy we can slip into boredom if we aren’t careful to actively bring our intention into each breath. The simple nature of these poses offers the opportunity to really focus on practicing patience.
When it comes to more challenging asana, our practice of patience must shift slightly. We can become over-eager or frustrated inside a difficult pose. If we remember our intention of patience we can find the grace to ease out of frustration or ease into deepening. Take headstand for example. Once we’ve learned to situate ourselves on our forearms with the crown on the floor and the tail in the air we yearn to get the legs fully inverted. If we kick up we will fall. The path required is concentration and patience to keep pulling the feet in closer and closer to the face until we spontaneously and gracefully feel our hips stack over our shoulders and the leg bones pull into the pelvis and the core alights to raise the legs! This process might take a year to come together. Patience will get us there, not might.
“He that can have patience can have what he will.” ~ Benjamin Franklin