I am so pleased and proud of how hard everyone is working. One of the things I love about this practice, which is demonstrated to me by Sharath in Mysore year after year after year, is a strong work ethic. Humble, honest, hardworking. These aren’t characteristics that are fashionable in our social media, reality TV world — but they are characteristics of people with soul. Truth seekers. I see it in all of you.

So let’s talk for a minute about pain. A few of you have asked about it. Most of us are feeling it. Here’s the reality: when you look at everyone in the shala, pretty much 99.9% of us are feeling pain. Whether physical, mental, emotional, or some combination of all three, something is always going on in our lives to cause discomfort and suffering. As I’ve said before: If you find yourself on your mat and you have no pain (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), take a moment to feel intense gratitude and then ENJOY YOUR PRACTICE. What a gift that is. Rare and well worth savoring. So do.

Am I telling you you’re going to feel pain in practice? Um, yeah. Oh, did you think yoga made you relaxed and unstressed and pain free? Sorry! Did you think you could transform yourself painlessly? Um, no.

This practice will restructure your entire physical and spiritual being. It will show you spots that you ignore, or weird ways you twist when you think you’re not twisting at all, or how your hips are uneven because you always cross one leg over the other. It will show you the deep, painful place where you hold your anxiety in your gut and the stiff place where you hold fear in your ribcage and the weird way you hold your shoulders because you bear the weight of responsibilities to your family. It will also help you unravel all of this and free up those spots. But it won’t “cure” you of anxiety and fear and responsibility: those things will stay, but you’ll understand them more. They’ll be your companions instead of your enemies.

You’ll find out how you respond to fear and to pain. Some people push through no matter what. Some shy away. Some quit. Some hurtle through, headlong. None of these responses are good or bad. They just are what they are. And you get to find out who you are and how you respond. And then, over time, you develop what I can only call “faith” — at which point you just keep going, whether you are scared or in pain or tired or energetic or blissful or grief-stricken. And it’s a kind of freedom that you can only understand by experiencing it. That’s what we’re working towards, you guys. I know it’s hard to understand, but the fact that you are already here means something inside you already knows. So let’s keep going.