While I’m a long ways from being a yoga master, for me the path towards mastery has come from allowing myself time, practicing acceptance and developing awareness.

I began practicing yoga 15 years ago with the intention that I would still be practicing 50 years later. In adopting a long view, I gave myself the freedom to take 5 or 10 years to learn a particular skill. It gave me time to not progress outwardly and to more easily accept the state of my practice without feeling stuck.

This allows me the liberty to take my time to explore the deeper dimensions of my practice. I have time to become aware of the nuances of each pose and my attitude in approaching them. I have time to enjoy the practice itself.

Someone recommended a book to me: Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard). The book was written based on the author’s experience in the context of Aikido, but is really applicable to any discipline.

George Leonard says at the end of the first chapter of his book:

“How do you best move toward mastery? To put it simply, you practice diligently, but you practice primarily for the sake of the practice itself. Rather than being frustrated while on the plateau, you learn to appreciate and enjoy it as much as you do the upward surges.”

So, give yourself time to become a master and to enjoy the process rather than the achievements.

Allow yourself to sometimes grow in the outward aspects of your practice (e.g., new poses, new techniques) and sometimes to grow in the inward aspects of your practice (e.g., attitude, awareness,the small details).

Bring awareness to your practice so that your understanding can deepen while on the plateaus and bring acceptance to your practice so that your expectations don’t stand in the way of your enjoyment.