For a long time my favorite yoga studio offered multicolored foam blocks to students. Although the majority were black, there were a few tan and pinkish-orange ones sprinkled in for variety.
One day I absentmindedly took a pinkish and a black block while setting up. Normally little differences like that would irk me — two different colors? Ahhhhhh — but that day a challenge arose.
What if I made it through my practice without fixating on the different colors?
Spoiler alert: I made it through the practice safe and sound. The left side of my brain survived this illogical set up and lived to rationalize another day.
Every now and then I think about my little block experiment, mainly about how simple and effective it proved. If you can allow your mind to stray from small, inconsequential things, why not some of the bigger ones — at least while we’re on our yoga mats?
Surrender. Let go. Allow your mind to get away from the daily minutia that can bog it down.
Lately I’ve come to a different way to look at it. What I did with the blocks was indeed simple. I told myself not to worry about different colors. No biggie. Nobody else would even notice the blocks were different.
Yet, because it was simple, is it any less valid?
Often it feels like in the world we’ve created we’re quick to dismiss simple pleasures or moments of ease.
With yoga — especially in the days of social media and pricey designer apparel — we’re caught in the mindset where if something isn’t “hard” it’s not worthwhile. Unless we try the craziest inversion or turn our body into a pretzel, we’ll never find the path toward enlightenment.
Or as teachers, maybe we sometimes feel compelled to jam a class full of difficult sequences or asanas to prove our worth, or impress our students.
As I think about this, I keep coming back to a pullout quote from Yoganand from my 200-hour YTT manual:
“There is a path up a mountain that I have been exploring for many years, but I have not reached the top and I am not going to surmise what you will find if you do.”
Our path up our own individual mountains will include steps that are easy, hard and everything in between. We’re doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t embrace the totality of it, even those that aren’t “hard.”
Mike Cardillo, RYT-200, lives and teaches yoga in Connecticut. He believes yoga is more than simply making shapes with your body.
He can be reached at yogawithmikeCT [at] gmail.com or found at Facebook.com/yogawithmikeCT