In my yoga class yesterday my amazing teacher Jacqueline told us to put in about 2% effort. The idea being not to strive. Take your your time, don’t force anything, embrace what is and just go with it. That’s easy to do in yoga class. It’s not always easy to do in life. We’re taught from a very early age that we have to try hard. We have to be prepared, ready for action and always on top. Not doing that, accepting that we don’t know what’s going to happen next and can’t always be prepared and in control, can be the hardest thing in the world.

How often have you rehearsed a conversation? How many times have you anticipated the outcome? And how many times could you have prejudiced the outcome through your own assumptions? How often is half the challenge of getting through a situation connected to handling your own stress? And how much of life would be easier if we didn’t all wind ourselves up waiting for something that might never happen? How far, in simple terms, are we all our own worst enemy?

For all my yoga and mindfulness I am as guilty as the next person. I think part of me actually believes that imagining the worst case scenario makes it less likely to happen. As though if I can spot bad luck, hiding in the undergrowth, I can scare it away. This is, of course, nonsense, it just stresses me out and makes me worry a lot while simultaneously maintaining the blind faith that all will be well. No good can come of it. Stopping myself from doing that, however, without allowing myself to ignore reality altogether, is a daily labour. A never-ending sequence of checks and reminders. If one has to live in cloud cuckoo land to retain one’s peace of mind, one isn’t really retaining one’s peace of mind at all..

Which is why yoga and meditation, if you are going to practice them, have to be practiced daily, the second you stop you slip back into old habits like a recovering alcoholic falling off the wagon. To say that one needs to work at being relaxed sounds like an oxymoron but who said imagining life constantly in terms of duelling opposites made any sense anyway?

In many ways this poppy is also an oxymoron.

In many ways this poppy is also an oxymoron.

I have, of late, fallen off the yoga wagon. My daily practice slipped thanks to two bank holiday weekends and some prohibitively long working hours. It’s time to get back on board. Enlightenment won’t come from striving but it equally won’t come without effort. Namaste.

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