First, Do What’s Necessary

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible;and suddenly you are doing the impossible!

St. Francis of Assisi

I was first introduced to the concept of Adikara, as meaning ‘studentship’, or my preferred definition, ‘the work that needs to be done’. It describes both the diligence and the patience required for the practice of yoga to bear its fruits, and also, the result of that work. As we often see in Yoga, the route and the destination are one and the same thing! When we break down adikara, we see it is made of two roots; ‘adi’ meaning oneself, and ‘kara’ to make. We could then say adikara is the process of making ourselves, or making ourselves ready.

Ready for what? Well, everything! Krishnamacharya calls Yoga a ‘sarva-aṅga-sādhanā’, a practice that engages all of our faculties. It is not simply a physical discipline, but a lifestyle that integrates the many inter-connected layers of human experience.

What we learn from our practice is the value of a process-oriented approach, and not a goal-oriented one. B. K. S. Iyengar famously said that our practice waxes and wanes like the phases of the moon. In other words, sometimes it’s very strong and we go forward by leaps and bounds, other times things seem to come to a complete standstill or even go backward! Just as the moon on some days is bright, some days obscured, some days close and some days far away. But what is not so explicit about this quote is the underlying knowledge that even though our vantage point may be different the moon has never stopped its orbit! Each day it repeats its same cycle without fail, whether it can seen or not.

The same is true for our practice of course. There are stages where we feel nothing is changing, or nothing will ever change to how we would like it to be. But what determines a true practice, is not the attainments we mark off on our yoga to-do-list, but the steady tally chart that says, ‘today I turned up for myself, and did my practice’. It is in all of those sessions that we are steadily preparing the ground of our body, in those sessions that we are laying the foundations, and from those foundations, that one day, almost spontaneously, the impossible will begin to emerge.

The challenge then is to find the joy in the process, to find contentment in the necessary, to find fascination in the mundane so that one day the impossible can occur!