September 27, 2016

Sadhana: Daily Practice

Sadhana is the foundation of living yoga, the well from which we draw as students and teachers on the path. Whether you are a yoga teacher or a dedicated lifelong practitioner, cultivating and sustaining the habit of daily practice is an integral part of moving from “doing” yoga to being yoga, allowing it to permeate your life, out of the studio, off the mat, in all aspects of your daily living. Through committing to home practice, we at once honor this ancient lineage and make it our own. This is the tapas (fervor) it takes to begin to turn our drishti (gaze) inward and see things as they are and not only through our myriad of misperceptions.

While most of us come to yoga through attending public classes, exposing ourselves to an experienced teacher or range of teachers, part of maturing as a practitioner involves establishing an independent practice, learning to listen carefully to our own needs as yogis, in the constantly changing circumstances of body, mind, and heart. Even as we continue to practice with and learn from the teachers who inspire and nurture us on this path, we become teachers to ourselves.

For many of us, developing a home practice—let alone sustaining one--can be a challenge to say the least. Possibly more like, impossible. In many of my conversations with practitioners I notice they’re trying to mimic the model of the public yoga class at home. In addition, practicing at home can seem like yet another obligation, flavored with discipline and routine, and nearly all yoga practitioners come up against resistance and aversion as a natural part of taking on a commitment, any commitment, really. However, when you consider the subtle and profound gifts of showing up each and every day to give your life, your inner and outer being, clear attention—well, they’re limitless. And, yet, still, we can resist, just like with anything that we “know” is the “healthiest” option.

So, we make small, little sweet commitments that can actually be joyful. I could list off an endless daily practice for you here and maybe you’d attend to it for a while, but, inevitably you’d drop it in the face of what you consider the reality of your living. So, each of us must create our own sadhana, one based on wisdom from the original teachings, one based on where we are in our lives, one that could be sustainable in the various circumstances of our lives.

I will offer a couple of suggestions as you step toward SADHANA:

  • Create a dedicated a place to practice within the home/or bring mini altar wherever you travel.
  • Write down what you’re most wanting from this time…Clarity. Healing. Strength. Awareness.
  • Write down your dream practice.
  • Write down a realistic practice.
  • Answer the question: what does living yoga mean to you?
  • Include meditation and possibly japa mala recitation – profound tools for bringing focus inward and to the moment.
  • Consider whether your practice could include Ayurvedic morning cleansing rituals?
  • Keep the asana simple and most likely repeat at least half of it each day. Meaning, Surya Namaskar A or B or both or some other “form” practice that you can go to each time.

It sounds small, but establishing a foundation of sadhana is an incremental process, and simplicity and humility are the keys to making it work. In addition, you might want to choose one of the yamas or niyamas to explore both on the mat and off, through reading, reflection, and occasional writing.

Persistence. Persistence. Persistence. When you fall off the practice train, jump back on.

Don’t spend too much time beating yourself up or deeply exploring the tendrils of your resistance.

Just renew your commitment and GO.

Committing to consistent sadhana can be—no, will be—a transformative experience (and those who know me, know that I do not use that saying lightly), both when you want to practice and when you don’t. You will learn from, play with, struggle against, and deeply immerse yourself in home practice. In doing so, you will find your foundations as a practitioner and as a teacher.

More posts
September 27, 2016
Sadhana: Daily Practice
November 1, 2016
Making Friends with Fear
February 9, 2017
This is not a drill.
March 9, 2017
Drama Chaser
June 6, 2017
September 7, 2017