Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet, playwright, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature wrote this sentiment. I found it written in a card sent to me by my best friend in 2009.
I share the power of this thought with you in light of framing your personal yoga mat practice. Perhaps in our case we can redefine the stepping stones as individual asana/postures. On the mat, our asana are linked together by the breath; this is especially so if you enjoy a vinyasa or flowing yoga practice. Yet even if you practice a more “held” asana style, it can be argued that you never “arrive” in a posture even though you appear to be holding relatively still for several breaths. No sooner do you arrive in a posture than a micro-shift occurs, an adjustment is required, or a breath cycle creates movement.
You have been trying to learn how to balance in Bakasana (Crow Pose). You have glimpses of a moment of suspension and then you fall back. You finally got your second foot off the ground for a fraction of a second. To me, moments like these - of exploration in working with the posture - are the juiciest bits! Achieving the balance becomes less interesting. Plus, once you “get” the balance, you are off again setting your next asana challenge.
When you place the focus on “doing” or “getting into” the posture, you can miss out on the journey of “being” in the practice. It has been my experience that noticing the spaces in between the points of arrival in asana can get you wonderfully lost in the beautiful flow of choices and individual moments required to get you to those arrival points and move you beyond.
From Seamus’ standpoint, these stepping stones lead us to greater challenges and endeavors, as well as unknown destinations that were not previously envisioned or desired. Such is the beauty of our lives off the mat too. Why not think of breath and continuous flow as your chariots carrying you along the journey?