Below is the sanskrit and Swami Rama translation of yoga sutra 1.13 in full-
1.13 tatra sthitau yatnah abhyasa
Practice (abhyasa) means choosing, applying the effort, and doing those actions that bring a stable and tranquil state (sthitau).
The concept of practice is something that has been a part of my life since I was very young, primarily in relation to sports. As a child I played all the sports- except baseball- my arms were like toothpicks and throwing with one hand I could not do. I developed a strong work ethic and an unquestionable trust in my body's capabilities. I ran far, kicked hard, practiced lay ups with diligence, skied down and cross and danced with pizazz and some gracefulness. I continued to rely on my body for years to do all of the things. I learned to push my limits, to compete, to set goals and to achieve them. As the years went by I lost interest in the contact sports and gravitated towards running. I loved the trails, I loved the simplicity and the feeling of my body in motion. I competed in college for a brief stint and then decided -or maybe my tight IT bands told me- it was time to try something new. Shortly after I found yoga. Bikram yoga. This yoga suited me, it seemed competitive and very challenging. I identified as an athlete and appreciated the heat, the long holds and the novelty of these new movements. After just one practice I knew I would teach this yoga one day. My practice carried on and grew and shape shifted. And here I am years later, not teaching Bikram yoga, but indeed sharing yoga in its various forms.
It has taken quite a while for my 'athlete' mind to understand the idea of the type of practice explained above. Practice that nourishes. Practice that listens. Practice that is curious. Practice that is consistent. Practice that brings tranquility. I am still practicing this type of practice. I have found that the commitment to the practice is key, and deciding that the practice is worth it and that I am worth it. More than the commitment to the practice, it is the commitment towards gentle curiosity rather than the end result. This type of practice means being with all the parts of me. The parts I like to hide. The parts that are joy-filled. The parts that make me feel embarrassment. The parts that are scary. The parts that are exuberant and silly. Allowing all of these parts of me to have space creates the stability and tranquility- because I am existing just as I am.
What does practice mean to you?