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Discipline in the Land of Hanuman

Updated: May 24

Hampi, what an unexpected gift!

My original plans were to come to Hampi for 6 days to spend time with my rock climbing friend. I had no expectations and honestly, by the way I packed, it’s clear I wasn’t planning on doing much at all.

6 days has become 2 weeks, as my travel plans have extended — the Gina Way, of course.

Hampi is so far out of my comfort zone. There is no city, no grocery store, no cute restaurants, no nice air bnb, no kitchens in any accommodations. When I first got here, all I could see was what it was lacking. These things I imagined are necessities for me to be comfortable in a place were all missing.

The village we are staying in, Hanumanalli, is the birthplace of Hanuman, the monkey god, a Hindu symbol of devotion. Sleeping in the shadows of the Anjenadri temple on the rocky hilltop, I’ve seen my devotion tested. And in it, I’ve found a part of myself I was not aware existed.

I always struggle with my yoga practice when I’m not with my teacher. It’s rare for me to practice the full series with any sort of regularity when I don’t have that external accountability. For the first week, I practiced half-heartedly, skipped days, cut out poses. I tell myself I’m lazy, that I lack discipline, or that I have other things I need to do. But the reality is that I’ve discovered something much deeper about myself: I rarely attempt to do things unless the circumstances are ideal. I want things to be perfect. This way, I have a sense of control.

Yes, I have finally come to terms with realizing I’m a perfectionist.

I thought perfectionism meant I would be perfect at things. I didn’t realize it meant that I’d only try if I knew I’d succeed.

This all came to me on Monday this week. I tried slacklining for the first time. I stepped onto the line and immediately could not stand up. Again. Again. I couldn’t even seem to straighten my leg, let alone balance. My friends all stepped onto it with ease, walked across, turned around, dismounted gracefully. I was in awe.

“What’s the secret??” I asked. “Practice.” Of course that was the answer. In any other situation in any other place, I would have shrugged and walked away, never trying it again. I was clearly not made for slack line since I was not able to balance. But with the encouragement of my friend Tanner, and many gentle reminders that it takes people days and days of falling to walk across, I devoted myself to learning to slack line.

On the 3rd day, I was still standing in one spot on the line, trying to perfect my balance. I refused to take a step until I could stand on the line without falling. Every pore of my body sweat from the 100° heat and the work of essentially doing a deep one legged squat to get back on the line. While I was forcing myself to hold my balance, my friend Amélie said, “gina, are you a perfectionist?” Which, I of course denied. She pointed out that I needed to be okay with the balance not being perfect and just try taking some steps. Maybe even messy steps. Maybe even fast steps. I hated her suggestion, but I tried. And to my surprise, I took a step (and fell).

5 days of practice and I can walk across now.

In these 5 days, I learned more about myself, my body, my yoga practice, and my mind than any single place or activity has taught me before.

From here on out, I’m choosing devotion over perfection.

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