I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’. What a fabulous book. I’m not very far into it but he challenges whether or not people are ‘gifted’ or whether they are presented with opportunities and because of their tenacious response, become experts.
It makes us feel as though we are all special but some people have a greater opportunity for just that, greatness. In his second chapter he describes the theory that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something. There’s no denying that’s a lot of hours. 10,000 hours of practice at 1 hour per day is 27.39 years. It’s a long or short time depending on how you look at it.
I have taken this calculation onto the mat. Now one could choose to be discouraged and say “Geez, this is going to take forever.” I choose to see it as inspiration. That I am exactly where I need to be after all my hours of practice. That if I choose to get ‘better’ or in the case of yoga I prefer the term more ‘devoted,’ then I have lots of time and I’m doing well for where I am at.
I have no idea how many hours of yoga (asana practice) I have done since I began. I would guess at somewhere around 1500. That’s around 4 hours per week over 7 years. It’s a rough estimate but gives me an idea anyways. I feel like my knowledge is sound, based in my physical experience but I respect deeply that I have a long way to go and am intrigued by this 10,000 hour concept.
So the next time you are on the mat judging your abilities, don’t. We generally don’t like to observe our physical manifestation of yoga from the ego mind, the one that assesses and compares. Rather look at your growth from your own beginning. You may feel as though you have even lost mobility. I know I certainly can’t do some things that I was able to do when I first started practicing. My theory is that as we do more yoga, we become more physically aware. As this personal cognizance grows, we are able to redefine our abilities from the body’s truth rather than the mind’s desire. This ultimately ends up causing us less pain, less injury and more happiness, more equanimity. This is the point of the practice. To unite the body with the mind through the bridge of the breath or what I like to fondly call, the yellow brick road.