I have to prove to myself how much I really want this.

I am being very stubborn about this. Or maybe, more accurately, very traditionalist.

So I started my personal practice from scratch — again — the beginning of June. Obviously I feel it’s important. Break yourself down before you build yourself up. And it starts with humbling yourself.

Obviously I know I can do the full Primary Series. I’ve done it time and time again. But there’s something special and, yes, intimate, about starting from scratch. Beginning with just the Surya Namaskaras. And then, day by day, week by week, like solving a puzzle, adding a couple of postures at a time.

There’s much to be said for familiarizing yourself with each pose. Learning how your body and mind respond to stress. To cultivating discipline. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t want to make an asana of yourself.

Six and a half weeks passed. Built up to ~75 minutes of daily practice.

And then I fell off.

No matter. Pick self back up. I know I can do it. I did it for eight weeks back in the winter. Dragging myself up at 4:30, five AM every morning. Body tight. Mind tired. Just do it. Just do it. Just do it.

Did it once. Do it again.

Here I am. Closer than ever. More determined than ever.

It was 15 days ago that I picked myself back up. And started right back at the beginning: Sun Salutations. But this time? Let’s expedite things. My body is familiar with things. I was in very good shape before I fell off. I don’t need to take as much time to build back up as I did before.

Add new postures every two or three days. Within two weeks I’m practicing all of Standing Sequence and Finishing Sequence.

Life has a way of throwing a wrench into things. On Monday evening I a car hit my bike pulling out of the parking lot. A very minor collision — I saw it coming but I was a split-second late in coming to a complete stop. My bike is damaged but not ruined.

In the process, though, my left shoulder got wrenched. At the time it felt very minor, but you know how those things go. I knew when I woke up in the morning it would be sore. How sore? No idea.

Fortunately the following day — yesterday, in fact — was my off day. An interesting test: how quickly does my body recover?

The shoulder feels structurally sound. It’s a matter of pain tolerance. This morning, at 8 AM, I resume practice.

Right from the start something is off. No, not my shoulder; it’s not perfect but it’s probably ~80 percent. (Only now do I realize just how much emphasis on your shoulders the Standing Sequence has!)

But it’s one of those days. Those days Pattabhi Jois warns about, the days when your body feels like “wet cement.”

Just do it. Just do it. Just do it.

I know enough to know that these are the most important days. The days you feel like giving up, where you question your body’s capabilities. You must sweat those toxins out. Eschew the negative thoughts. Give it your all, whatever your all may be that particular day. One breath at a time.

Monkey mind running rampant.

But something has changed. Sure, my mind may be wondering, my body may feel tight, and I may be projecting forward to a couple of poses — how will my shoulder respond in Parivritta Parsvakonasana? — but this time there are no negative thoughts accompanying such distractions.

One underlying thought centers me: “I need this.”

The more uncomfortable I feel the more I need to do this.

One of the underrated great things about yoga is that it’s one of the only ways you truly feel clean. All the sweat dripping off of your body? Stress. Dirt. Frustration. Restlessness. It’s all wiped away. Every muscle and nerve in your body receives due attention.

The only thing comparable is a nice swim.

I finish. And I can see that in just a few weeks my mind and body is improving by leaps and bounds. I am on the cusp of my short-term goals. My body is lithe, agile and strong. Not just strong in the sense of exerting maximum effort, but in exerting near maximum effort for a prolonged period of time.

I have been away from the studio for a (relatively) long time now. I was on the cusp of earning my certification before I left. My personal practice was calling me. And I will not go back until it is established where I want it to be. When I walk in that door and see Polina, Dave, and everyone else, I want it to be obvious that I was not resting on my laurels.

Look at me. I have been practicing. I live dat life.

Ninety minutes, daily. Early in the morning, by six or seven AM.

I estimate I am three or four weeks away from that goal. These next 12 days are critical.

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