According to the Yoga Sutras, the second facet of your practice is effort, virya in Sanskrit. (Remember last week? The first one is faith.) It is variously defined as strength of will, diligence, enthusiasm, and inner strength. Suffice it to say, this is the hard work of the yoga practice, and the hard work of life. Virya is “committing the energy to go there.” Virya is pushing to get to the top of the hill on your bike.
Of course, in New Orleans, we don’t have any real hills to ride, but if you ever need to bike from Mid-City to Uptown, the Jeff Davis overpass is the way to go. (((Small aside--Can we just quit already with letting everything be named after historical white supremacist dudes? It’s not just the monuments! Seriously. If you’re interested in mobilizing around this issue, connect with Take Em Down NOLA. bell hooks overpass, anyone? Allen Toussaint Circle? Anyway, moving on.))) So if you have ever biked over the aforenamed overpass, you will know that it is a big hill to climb.
Because of the way the intersection is set up, it’s often hard to even get a good fast start from the bottom. Instead you’ve just got to power your way up. And up. And up. And up. As the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland says,
“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
Or bike, as it were. It’s a loooooong climb to the top in a city with no hills. BUT! When you get to the top, it’s AWESOME! You are like, eye-level with the Superdome. And you can look the sun square in the face. And you’re above all the cars stuck in traffic on the interstate because you are awesome and you are on a bike and the sun is setting and it’s glorious!
AND THEN! You get to coast all the way down the other side. And it’s funny, because when you’re on the downslope, it’s actually counter-productive to keep pushing. Have you ever tried it, to just keep pedaling as you go downhill? It feels crazy and out of control and weird on your knees. The best way down is to just hold on loosely and enjoy the ride.
But the only way to get there is to slog on up. Up the hill. All the way up. Such is yoga, and such is life. The work it takes to get to the top isn’t always fun. Your thighs burn, and your mind says “This sucks” over and over again.
But you want to be eye-level with the Superdome.
I know you do. Virya gets you there.