Practice Makes Practice PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Beth Lapides   

A few days before my first yoga New Year, my teacher asked us to make yoga New Year’s resolutions. Instantly, and uncharacteristically not even taking the three dark days till New Year’s to mull it over, I resolved to get good at jump ups. And I have been resolving to get good at jump ups every year since.

That’s an exaggeration. Some years, I resolve to not care if I get good at jump ups. Some years, I resolve to work on “inflating my kidneys” in order to get good at jump ups. Or tackling my fear of falling in order to get good at jump ups.

Beth Lapides: My Other Car Is A Yoga Mat
Beth Lapides: My Other Car Is A Yoga Mat

I have, in fact, gotten a little bit better at them. At one point, I convinced myself I was actually good at them. Then I started practicing at a studio where many of my fellow yogis and yoginis could actually go from a jump up into handstand and then lower themselves smoothly into uttanasana (standing forward fold) while chatting. I don’t think being green with envy is really considered eco-yoga.

Normally, I am pretty good about staying on my own mat, but that year I resolved to remind myself during jump ups that though I couldn’t really jump up, I was a funny stand-up. Oh I was hilarious, even my jump ups were comical.

I once did a decent jump up though, so I know it’s in me somewhere probably living next door to my ideal weight, which I once weighed for a week. I’m starting to think it’s not jump ups I’m bad at, but resolutions. If you keep resolving the same thing over and over, it’s not really a resolution. It’s just nagging.

Oddly, outside of resolutions I’m always deciding to change and then actually changing.I’m constantly consciously evolving my diet, work, philosophy, practice and even my attitude about change. So what is it about resolutions that lead me down this goal-oriented, process-denying, jump up centric path every year? Is it just that I’m so exhausted by December that my mind goes on autopilot?

I realized that resolution is re-solution. Re-solving. And I hate re-doing things. During a recent hair cut, as Matthew was patiently snipping at my difficult-to-cut curly hair, I was complaining about re-dos: a rewrite that had just landed back on my desk, and the eight pounds I’d gained back and had to re-lose.

“All I ever do is do-overs,” he said cheerfully. Which made me think instead of calling them hair dos, we should call them hair do-overs. And it’s true. Almost every time I’ve had my difficult hair cut, I’ve had to have it recut. Even if you have the easiest bob on the block it grows out and you cut it again: A do over. And writing is rewriting. Of course breathing is something you have to do over all the time. Breathe in? Again?

Of course some things are not as pleasurable, or as primal, as breathing. That’s why we have to be reminded to chop wood, carry water. Or now, as I like to say, chop wood, but not old-growth; carry water but not in the leaching plastic bottles.

I realized that in a yoga practice it’s all do overs, and I don’t mind, because in yoga I always have the attitude that I am practicing. I don’t practice to get perfect; I practice to become a better practicer. In yoga, practice makes practice.

In every class I re-solve poses: for that day, with that day’s body and that day’s energy. When a teacher calls out trikonasana (triangle pose) I don’t think, “oh not again, I’ve already done trikonasana,” I think, “Ahhh sweet trikonasana,” and I start in, re-solving it, and letting it re-solve me. And I resolve to someday be able to say the same for that confounding right angle pose.

Resolution doesn’t just mean becoming resolute, determined to do something. Resolution comes from resolutionem, a Latin word meaning ‘the process of reducing things into simpler forms,’ which in turn comes from a word meaning ‘loosen, dissolve, untie.’ What?! Untie?! Un-unite? Isn’t union, uniting, the heart of yoga? How can untying be part of uniting? Is it a kind of all-encompassing counterpose?

As it turns out, resolvere, to loosen, to resolve leads us to solve and dissolve. I start to see how solving problems, and resolutions are connected to solution, a liquid containing a dissolved substance. Maybe because I have the watery Age of Aquarius on my brain, I start to see us all as pieces of the solution. And that the solution is each of us dissolving into the liquidy wholeness of all of us, them, it, we. Untying, loosening of our egos can result in the uniting with oneness.

So this year I’m not resolving to do anything about my jump ups. This year I will be resolving to practice with an upward facing attitude despite these downwardly mobile times. In whatever pose I’m in. In every now. With every one. Even that girl over there who can jump up like she is flying. Oh wait, is that me in the mirror? Nope. Well, maybe next year.

Beth performs her show "100% Happy 88% of the Time" at Urban Yoga in Palm Springs on Sat. Dec. 13. Maybe you want to bring her to your studio? Contact and info (and get your own "My Other Car is a Yoga Mat" license plate frames):

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