I know I know, 3 days seems like a lot. Who has the time? Well, you make time for things that are important to you. And I get it, it's hard to show up on your mat. Heck, it's hard to get out of bed sometimes. And I acknowledge you for the sacrifice involved in showing up to your daily life. To take one action we sacrifice other actions. If we're watching TV we're sacrificing reading a book. If we get married, we sacrifice single life. If we don't have children we sacrifice being parents. If we go to yoga class we're sacrificing something too. And so on and so on. Sacrifice involves no judgment. It is simply something that is; a choice to be made. To sacrifice means to make sacred, to set something apart from ordinary reality. So it's important to have awareness of what we're choosing and what we're giving up.
Which brings up a good topic: what are you living for? Why are you here on this planet at this time? You don't have to answer right now; think about it for a sec. It's important to know why we're doing the things we're doing so that we may choose our lives powerfully and fulfill our life's purpose.
Whatever your life-dream, and whatever brought you to this planet at this time, a physical yoga practice will assist your accomplishing it. Because we also do not take action without expecting results, we need to know the reward for showing up. Coordinating breath and asanas moves energy through the body and if you are stuck physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually yoga facilitates release and un-sticks what needs to be shifted.
Ever been in yoga class and burst into tears? Me too. Well, something needed to come out. And though many of us (myself included) resist releases such as bursting into tears in front of fellow yogis, did you feel better afterwards? Me too.
We don't need to add anything to ourselves to make us better. All we need to do is let go of the stuff that's not really us and our true beauty and joy will shine through. As in, stop berating yourself for this and that and do your practice anyway. Your thighs are perfect. Your belly is gorgeous. Your ass is spectacular. Your emotions are wonderful. You. Are. Lovely. And no one can do what you do as well as you can. That's right, you can do the things you know you should do even if you don't feel like it.
This approach is the opposite of our consumerism culture and it might take some chewing on, some going over, to digest fully. It's okay. Just sit with it. Or, if you're in a plucky mood go to your mirror and tell yourself how fucking awesome you are. Stay with yourself in front of that mirror and keep saying amazing things about yourself until you believe them! Beyond the chatter of the (generally negative) committee inside each of our heads is an untapped source of bliss, or ananda. This rises up from within independent upon the outside world. To access ananda can take a little bit of work, as in a little letting go of things that no longer serve you.
I hear you thinking, "You mean, I'm whole complete and perfect just the way I am and I don't need to do anything to make myself better? Are you saying I can just let go of all the negative stuff rattling around in my head and heart and that I have my own artesian well of joy and bliss inside me?"
Yes friend, that's exactly what I'm saying. But for many of us we have some things to work through to get to the point of complete acceptance of ourselves.
And this is why we practice at least 3 days a week.
Showing up consistently over a period of time is the hardest part for students. I frequently get messages from people wondering if they can drop in on a class, wondering if they should do something before coming in, wondering which class is best for them. Wondering, wondering, wondering. And because it happens so often it seems like a pattern of hesitation versus actual questions needing to be answered. I'm not harping on anyone here, I know we all have questions about things and in our very mind-oriented linear society we like to know exactly what we're doing before we do it. But part of our personal practice (whether coming to class or practicing alone at home) is jumping into the unknown. And, here's a little secret for you, the practice demands that we not know sometimes, that we take a risk and jump into a class anyway. And could we even add to our practice enjoying the adventure of not knowing? Gasp!
One's spiritual practice is called sadhana. And the one who practices is called a sadhaka. For the sake of this article we're not going down the "is yoga a religion" rabbit hole. Today we are going to say that yoga makes us feel better on all levels with the understanding that we are more than a body and a mind. Said another way, we have 4 different bodies: the physical body, the mental/mind body, the emotional body, and the spiritual body. This truth transcends religion and our opinion on the matter.
It's said that the mind doesn't want to be trained. We're all familiar with this. Personally I'd like to eat pizza, macaroni-and-cheese-in-the-box, and chocolate everyday, take long walks with my dog, and have sex whenever I want, destiny and digestion be damned. In the ancient texts the mind is likened to a wild horse and a monkey. So when we're on the hunt for excuses not to go to class the battle lives is in the mind. The other three bodies crave the practice, so if you can just get past the mental hesitation you're good, right?
Well sort of. The more we practice the more we want to practice. And the truth is discipline demands something from us. It takes, well, discipline and as mentioned above, sacrifice. Commit to your practice for a year or two no matter what, and then decide if you like it or not. Yes, I just said that. We live in a fast paced society with nary a need to be patient for anything. When you can get same day shipping with Amazon Prime what's the point of painstakingly polishing the diamond that is your shiny little self in the slow methods of the ancient practices of yoga? As in, why commit to something for one or two years before deciding if we should stick with it?
Well, the physical body is bound by time and space. The mind, emotions, and spirit are not. So we exist between the ability of the non-physical bodies to time travel and jump to any place at any time and the physical body's boundedness to space and time in this present moment. The physical body is always in the present moment. This is not so for the other bodies. What we need to do is bring the 4 bodies into cohesiveness. For many of us we have healing to do before we reach this cohesiveness. To make it through the healing process takes surrender, discipline, sacrifice, and a connection to the loveliness of what's on the other side. I'll be honest, many don't make it and even those of us who make it a little ways still struggle. Many of us get discouraged because it's easier to remain complacent than to change. And this is the reason we need to train the mind to do the things that are good for us but that we might not want to do.
We must ask ourselves these questions:
Who am I? What am I doing with my life? What do I stand for? What gets me out of bed in the morning? Why am I here at this time? What is worth living for? What is worth dying for? And my personal favorite: At the end of my life what do I want to look back at and see?
If we're able to answer these questions it will make showing up possible and it will back light our sadhana with a beautiful glow. Yoga is a transformative practice and to be transformed we must know why we're doing what we're doing so we have something to anchor and ground when shit hits the fan.
Alright sadhakas, that's it for now. Hit me up if you have questions.