What is discipline, really?
Discipline is a tricky little devil. Ideally, it can be the fire that gets us on the mat so that we can strip away the illusions and misidentifications that cause us to suffer. As Iyengar explains, “wood must be heated to ignite it and bring out the hidden fire within.” Not so ideally, it can also be a confusing agent of self-hatred and punishment. When we commit ourselves to a disciplined daily practice (and since there is no need to preach to the converted, we know this has benefits) we can also be mistakenly committing ourselves to a desire to achieve aesthetically based fitness goals and an addiction to the ability to perform complicated party-trick asana. When I miss a practice or feel that I’ve just sort of lazily stretched for an hour, a niggle in the back of my mind warns that perhaps I’ll soon slip back into adolescent pudginess and its maelstrom of related emotional entanglements if I don’t step up and get myself back into shape. I have to remember that there is a balance of health to be maintained between body, mind, and heart – which of course are fundamentally intertwined – while on the sometimes difficult and circuitous path of yoga. A path that we hope leads us through a life liberated from cycles of suffering.
Recently I attended a commitment seminar (Landmark Forum), and we were asked to make a list of what we are committed to in our lives. "Easy enough," I thought, so I wrote down things like, health, yoga, teaching, being a good wife, love, contentment, learning, saving money, and a few others.