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  • Lijing Cobb

A worthy challenge

Recently a woman emailed me and asked if I could teach her Ashtanga yoga. She commented that she liked the idea of Ashtanga because it is always the same sequence, so while she practiced she could check her progress consistently. My training in yoga is not Ashtanga, so I told her that it is best she sought her guidance somewhere else. But her inquiry ignited a spark in my brain. I found a video of the Ashtanga primary series and did the class. 90 minutes later I was thoroughly exhausted and energized at the same time. It is the perfect combination of energy, focus, breath work, and challenge for me. After I did the sequence a few days later for the second time, I was completely hooked. An idea popped into my head and I knew instantly that it was unstoppable. I’m going to challenge myself to practice this series 50 times total in order to commit it to memory.


Each practice is 90 minutes total, and realistically I can only practice on the weekends without interruption. That would mean 25 weeks in length for this challenge. That’s a good 6 months out of the year.


Commitments like this at once ground and excite me. I know this is a worthy challenge that will take my mind, body, breath, and their connection to the next level. What seems to be impossible for my body to do right now (and at the moment there are plenty in the second half of the series), in 6 months time it will be a different story. How much progress can we make once we make up our mind and put consistent effort into it? Sky is the limit.


It is not just a journey for the body, of course. What the body can outwardly achieve with practice, the mind must go through the same process as well in full support of the physical effort. I remind myself of two really important things at the outset of this journey:


  1. There will always be surprises. Deal with them how they must be dealt with when they arise. View them as an integral part of the process, not anything extraneous. Hold onto peace of mind and trust in the process.

  2. This challenge must be based on and carried out with kindness as foundation. Heed the voice of the body. Know that progress in the physical realm is nothing without emotional anchor and growth. If my practice is carried out at the expense of someone else’s suffering, that is not my purpose and cannot be tolerated as part of the process.


When was the last time you set a concrete goal for yourself that made you excited and eager to tackle it? How did it go? What was your drive? In what ways did that process make you a better human being? How did it impact the world around you? What were you able to create in that process that lifted you out of your small self into the big SELF?


Check back in 6 months’ time for my report on this challenge. The above questions are the questions I’m seeking to answer in the process as well. Let’s make our time and effort worth our while.

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