November 2020: On Perfection

Chatturanga while practicing with Laruga Glaser on the 22 November 2020

On Perfection

It is so easy to strive for perfection in our capitalist world of inherent competition. As aspiring yogis we are not immune to that. We often bring the goal of perfection to our mats. We make impossible demands on ourselves, without pausing to look and listen to what is in front of us: our resources, our energy, the shape of our bodies, our deepest longings.
There are two things I have discovered in my practice which relate to perfection. The first is that I need to be careful with what I actually practice, for this will return to me. If I practice competitiveness, this is what will materialise in my life. If I practice perfection, I will get perfectionism and nothing will be good enough, I will not be good enough which, as yoga tells us, is clouded perception. It is a judgement that often times does not come from being present. And presence is precisely what we want, on and off the mat, because it is the only thing that truly is.
The second thing I have learned comes from my teacher Kia. In yoga practice, in particular in asana, there is no goal. So you have mastered the handstand. What next? A one handed handstand. What next? A one fingered handstand, and so on … We are never done. More asana is just more asana. It is not yoga.
In sutra 1.12, Patanjali writes abhyasa-vairagya-abhyam tan-nirodhah: the state of quiet centeredness that he defines as yoga is attained by practice and non-attachment. Both are equally important. If we practice well, if we practice sincerely and invite yoga into our selves, we will become less attached, also to ideas of perfection: doing the perfect posture, completing the full practice when there is no time, comparing ourselves to another whom we deem more perfect than us… Practice requires effort for sure, the right effort, but never strain.
I will leave you with the wisest words, said by the great teacher Krishna to the great student Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita (3.35): In yoga, it is better to perform one’s own dharma (one’s duty for the good of the whole) imperfectly, than another person’s dharma well performed. I hope this gives you as much comfort as it gives me, and inspires you to let go, to soften any hard-edged ideas of perfection in your practice.

Laura x
PS. Thank you, my dear Annie, for your great topic suggestion for this month. If you would like me to think through a particular concept, do email me any time.

What I have been practicing
Practicing with Kia regularly has been extraordinary. I recommend no better way of escaping the false clutches of perfection in the practice. Well, perhaps I can think of only one better way: practicing with Kia and Yotam! My favourite soundscape at the moment is The Mountain Shala. Even if you have not been to Las Chimeneas in Mairena for the summer retreat, Yotam’s music will soften your practice, and bring some of that sincere work (but without the seriousness of perfection) and dedication onto your mat.
What I have been reading

I have been practicing potency rather than perfection on my mat. How can I make my practice work for me, so that it brings me more presence (sat), more consciousness (chit), more bliss (ananda)? Often, this means letting go of the external form, of how it looks, and working intelligently with the principles behind it. In this article, David Garrigues outlines very well what my practice has been about this month: stability (practicing daily), constancy (no interruptions for the duration of the practice, however long or short) and devotion (practicing with deep love and gratitude).
What I have been listening to

I have loved listening to this podcast with Shelley Washington. Since lockdown, I have been practicing with David Swenson on zoom. I already considered him one of my teachers, as my first steps practicing alone were with his manual. I like how generous he is and how much he loves his wife, Shelley. But through the podcast, I found out why David loves her so much. She is such an extraordinary person! Her yoga story is wonderful. She was a professional dancer and certainly had to grapple with very set ideas of perfection, which she brought to her mat. Have a listen to hear how she overcame them.
Kia does regular weeks of practice online. The next will be 7-11 December. The programme includes classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings and a Sunday afternoon session. And yes, you guessed right, Yotam will be doing live soundscapes. Don’t miss the opportunity to join the peaceful warriors (see us above!) and book before Sunday 6 December at 6pm Paris time (5pm UK).

My last open class this year will be on Thursday 10 December. Join me to celebrate we made it here healthy and supported by our beautiful community.

My classes welcome all of you. They are attended by a fun group of practitioners of all levels from many places around Europe. It is a true delight to share these mornings:

07.15 – 08.30/09.00
ONLINE | Yoga (Led into Mysore) Thursdays
07.15 – 08.30/09.00
ONLINE | Yoga (Led into Mysore)*

*PRANAYAMA (Breathing) first Thursday of every month
ONLINE | 3 December


I am also available for pranayama one-to-one sessions online (introductory or following up your practice).
The full Rosina Bonsu Moves programme is designed to support you now that we know this new way of living is not going to change any time soon. The full schedule is online here. There are some excellent teachers and interesting classes!

My last class at RCS will be on Friday 11 December. Join me to celebrate your health and wellbeing in what has been the most challenging year.

I am working regularly with various programmes at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and also offering general classes to students and staff.

YOGA for STAFF (sign up with HR)
ONLINE | Mondays 13.00 – 14.00YOGA for STUDENTS (check RCS Sport on Facebook)
ONLINE | Wednesdays 18.00 – 19.00
ONLINE | Fridays 13.00 – 14.00