On the Rigors of Mastery

(PLANA Forma) The anatomy of a torture chamber. (Image sourced from Google.)

So, Abbey and I attended a truncated version of a Plana Forma class today on the invitation of our friend and Plana Form technique creator, Julie Alagde-Carretas.

It was the second time we’d tried this particular fitness technique, the first time being nearly a year ago. We were pretty fit even then, but that didn’t stop us from being massacred all the same. Today, we came in hoping that a year’s worth of almost-daily ashtanga practice had beefed up our strength and stamina (if only by a fraction).

Twenty minutes later, after the session had ended, Abbey and I crawled to our respective corners and decided—in true ashtangi fashion—that MORE practice (perhaps 10,000 hours more of it in true Gladwell fashion) is necessary.

Like most of my recent realizations, this one triggered contrary emotional responses. First, there was frank dismay: a year’s worth of ashtanga yoga and I can barely survive a beginner’s-level Plana Forma class? Second, there was grudging acknowledgment: I can actually follow the instructions!  And in the past, I couldn’t even do a grapevine!* Third, there was grim determination: If I can do all that, imagine what it’ll provide for my yoga practice!

(Yes, I’m a yoga nerd that way. The value of almost everything is measured in terms of what it can do for my practice.)

Outweighing all the other responses, however, was a profound sense of humility and respect—bound up with the realization I’ve gotten over the previous year of just how much mastery there is to (always) gain and how much hard, drudging, painful work is involved in the pursuit of such mastery.

And so I go back, as always, to the words of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois: Practice and all is coming. 


* The grapevine is a classic footwork technique that basically involves side-stepping while crossing one foot in front of the other. In fitness classes in the Philippines, it seemsto be frequently accompanied by rather florid hand movements whose cardiovascular value I have yet to establish.

4 thoughts on “On the Rigors of Mastery

  1. Mina says:

    I’ve been supplementng my practice with Barre3 recently too. I would’ve wanted to enroll at Plana Forma, but it’s too far. 😦


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