People say that practicing yoga is walking on the path. Well, it’s definitely not driving on a highway. Sometimes the path runs through a forest with logs and tree branches blocking it, sometimes through marshes and you have to be really careful where you step, sometimes through fields where sweet scented flowers blossom.
Walking the path you need to know where you are to make sure you are not lost. So don’t forget to take time to check your inner compass, consult a spiritual map (Yoga Sutras, for example) or ask locals for directions (someone you respect and trust).
Navigating the spiritual practice gets tricky at times but you’ve got all the equipment to keep you on track if your asana practice is alive. If you are a practitioner, you hear this in most of the classes, if you are a teacher you are giving these instructions everyday. Just take these principles off the mat to your everyday life and practice what you preach.
We start a class with cleansing Kapalabhati breathing to remove impurities and make space for fresh air and fresh energy to come in. When you are facing a problem or just feel low without realizing the reason, start with simply cleaning around your space, throw away (or donate) things you no longer need. Think if there is something or somebody in your life that is a little bit too much to handle. If there is, may be it’s time to take a break. Make space for wonders to come.
Next thing is respecting your limitations, keeping in mind they change day by day. So maybe today (or this week or this year) you are a little stiff and just can’t cope with as much work (or socializing) as usual. In this case an extra hour of sleep or just relaxing and doing something you enjoy may help.
We build an asana from the foundation. Decide what your priority is and concentrate on it. Arrange everything else around it. Find grounding and stability in the most important and valuable things for you, may it be the family, education, or health.
Safe asana practice emphasizes correct alignment and encourages not to compromise it for some doubtful achievement. So if you have some goal in mind, make sure the methods you are using are not in conflict with your moral principles. Otherwise your peace of mind is at risk, So take good care of yourself and remember that the result is not all that important; the way is.
And of course, the key to the practice is the breath. No matter how hard it gets, you can breathe through it. Your breath is always there for you, honest and welcoming. It is a safe place to come back to.
Take it off the mat! Balance is never stillness, it’s constant adjustment to the change. Keep balancing, keep practicing.
Yoga found Kate on her short (as she thought) visit to India for His Holiness Dalai Lama’s teachings. Soon after she arrived and took her first ever Yoga class, she enrolled in 200-Hours TTC and has been practicing and teaching Yoga ever since.