August 5, 2010
Laziness and Discipline
Laziness (Alasya) and discipline (Tapas) are both healthy when expressed in appropriate situations. The key is to discover what is needed and when, in order to bring about individual balance.
When we think about discipline and laziness from the perspective of non-violence, you may ask yourself “when does discipline cause violence to you or others?” Many yoga students can be very kind to others, while often being very critical of their own actions. If you give yourself a hard time for missing a yoga class, you may need to develop more discipline. Yoga is a practice where consistency creates harmony, and you may feel that when you lose your steady practice, it takes much more of an effort to get started again and you may allow self-judgment to take over. Beating yourself up over it does little good, and causes imbalance. Just as we let go of random thoughts in our meditation practice, we can also let go of this criticism and simply create more discipline.
The opposite of discipline, laziness can also disrupt balance in the mind and body. For example, being too lazy to practice yoga decreases its benefits all the way around. Laziness is positive when it fosters balance, like having a relaxed approach to life, making time to sit, play music, socialize, or take a walk. Somewhere between rigid discipline and laziness lies balanced discipline. This requires a certain fire from within, and this is what motivates a daily yoga practice.
In each yoga pose, there is a delicate dance between effort and surrender. This process is often called “finding your edge” in a pose, like practicing heat-producing asanas. The ability to go deeper in a yoga practice often has more to do with relaxation than effort. By relaxing into a challenging pose, you surrender to sensation all around you and you go deeper into pure consciousness.
Pay attention to your behavior, be non-judgmental and honest with yourself. Discover your motivational blocks, and notice your thoughts. Be aware of your ego, and how it justifies behavior that isn’t healthy or balanced. Keep your yoga practice disciplined and fun, just as you would any artistic venture.