Reaching a plateau in yoga can be discouraging. When we first roll out the yoga mat, a rapid swell in our ability gives rise to our motivation to keep practicing. We embrace the cresting wave of progress, but inevitably, the acceleration that pushed us forward will wane and leave us reeling aimlessly on the proverbial yoga plateau. In between the thrill of being on top of the curve, and the dream of overcoming challenges on the mat, there is a pause. This very moment in time is what makes many give up on our aspirations of becoming better yogis. We owe it to ourselves to keep going.
Progress comes in waves.
First, we must understand that while time may seem to be at a standstill when our practice lags, nothing is ever stagnant. In fact, we are in a continual state of motion. Molecules in our bodies are moving, our hearts keep beating, our blood keeps flowing, and our minds keep thinking. Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, understood this to be true when he said, “The only thing that is constant is change.”
If you have reached a plateau in your yoga practice, the following meditation will keep you from feeling discouraged by your seemingly lack of progress. Practice this meditation when accelerated changes in your mind and body have slowed.
Begin in a comfortable position, free from distraction. Take several deep breaths to clear your mind and relax your body. Bring your awareness to the image of an ocean. Notice the dynamic movement of the sea, and let this image settle in your mind. Next, off in the distance, see a swell begin to develop. Watch this swell pick up speed as it reaches its maximum height. Within seconds, see the swell crash and flatten, as it stretches across the shore.
While it may seem like nothing is happening as you anticipate the next swell, take a closer look. What do you see? Perhaps you notice a unique pattern of sea foam across the surface of the ocean. Maybe you can hear hundreds of tiny ocean bubbles breaking wind. Whatever you envision, bring all of your attention to the nuances during the plateau before the next swell. Now notice the same subtleties in your body. Become intrigued by the constant changes that are happening moment by moment, and in between the accelerated waves of your progress on the mat. Cherish this time, because the next wave is coming!