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The Lesson, Not the Event

“By this time I had learned that it was more fruitful to pay attention to the lessons rather than to events themselves.”- Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, At The Eleventh Hour


We all come into this practice carrying the results of our life and DNA in our bodies. In Mysore, Sharath would joke, “Don’t get mad at me because you are stiff. Get mad at your parents!” Last week, a student said, “I have been doing hip openers for a couple years now and my hips are still not open.” I said, “Sometimes, it is not possible to undo 40 years in a few years of practice, if at all”.

Working with our unique set of capabilities requires a perfect balance between abhyasa/practice and vairagya/non-attachment. Even if we inherited short arms, we practice anyway because we don’t know what adaptations our bodies may discover that make a jump through possible.  Through non attachment, we don’t get so caught up in the jump through that we get frustrated and disrupt the peace of our practice.  Through practice, we work on the hips that we tightened up over the last 40 years. Through non attachment, we don’t push so hard that we hurt our knees trying to open the hips.

Yoga talks about this idea of karma. We draw to us the perfect situations for our karmas to play out. The circumstances can look a million different ways. The circumstances are just the impetus for the energy to play itself out. The scenario we play out dealing with tight hips and not the tight hips themselves is what ends the cycle of cause and effect.

Practice because it is the lessons and not the events themselves that are fruitful.  Instead of focusing on short arms, can we focus on the lessons of perseverance and patience? Instead of focusing on tight hips, can we focus on the lessons of compassion and softness?




Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail