Knitting is always presented in such soothing terms. It’s meditative, creative, the repetition occupies a portion of your jumpy lizard brain allowing deep reflection.
True, true. But it can also be hell.
There’s a reason Elizabeth Zimmerman titled her famous book Knitting Without Tears. I’ve shed copious amounts of them over the years. There was a whole period a few years ago when my husband would ask “tell me again why you are putting yourself through this torture?”
Sometimes your project doesn’t work out. You make errors and fail to catch them for many rounds and then have to rip out inches of precious work. The plain knitting sections go on for an exceedingly tedious amount of time. You put everything you’ve got into a sweater and then it doesn’t fit or it looks ghastly on you. You spend way too much money and feel guilt. You make a Fair Isle hat and are faced with an ungodly amount of ends to weave in and you hate weaving in ends.
But still, we knit. And still get on our mats.
Because Ashtanga is the same. Only in yoga practice have I felt the same love/agony/struggle/joy cocktail that I get from knitting. I’ve quit both several times over the years only to return. And each time I return the ratio of love/joy increases over the agony/struggle. Of course this is because my skill level also increases but I think patience, perseverance and non-attachment to outcome have been fostered by both practices.
I’m at an interesting place in my yoga practice. I need to alter how I go about it. My old method is no longer working for me, never mind all the whys. I can look to my knitting for guidance. I don’t struggle quite so much anymore because I’ve learned to manage expectations. I’ve loosened up quite a bit and have learned to relax and enjoy the making, the doing and worry less about the result. And naturally the results have improved.
But I have also learned what it is I like to knit: this is key! I’m not about to make a sweater in plain stockinette stitch ever again. I’ve learned to tell when the pattern I’m ogling is something I want vs something I want to make. Big big difference. Most of the time I would be perfectly happy buying the finished item and skip the making part altogether. And then there is Fair Isle, a complicated bit of knitting that I’ve found I adore. It keeps me engaged in a way plain knitting doesn’t.
In terms of my practice, this puts me squarely into the unorthodox camp of Ashtangis. There are many asanas that I simply don’t care about doing. And I am perfectly content with that. A facsimile is fine by me. I am far more interested in finding the breath, bandhas, and drishti (the yoga equivalent to Fair Isle!)—something that I generally lose touch with as I power along in my old macho way. This new-found non-attachment to asana makes practice in a shala a bit tricky because it’s unfair to the teacher, I know. But I love practicing in a shala and I think I can behave well enough to continue to be welcome in one.
It’s all about increasing that love/joy ratio in every aspect of our life, no?