Yoga as a DAILY practice
What do we mean by “Practice”?
Practice makes perfect, or so they say. And yet, in real life, repeated practice just makes more precise that which we are practicing. If we practice poorly, we will get better at doing the thing poorly. If we practice well, wisely and with attention, then our practice becomes the path for improvement rather than maintenance of the status quo. When I talk about “practice, I am referring to the intentional efforts to cultivate compassionate mindfulness for transformation and growth. Practice is HOW we get better at doing the things. But what things “should” we be practicing?
Yoga is the practice of living well.
Life is the dash. Life is the culmination of all the things that make up the details of our life, from the first inhale to the final exhale. If living is our basic life objective, maybe we should practice those things that make living life easier and better. Or better yet, let’s practice the things that make life more authentic and aligned to our core values and purpose. When we live in authentic alignment, we cultivate greater ease in living.
Yoga invites us to do the things that matter most and defines the practice as learning to do them well. Pantanjali’s Raja Yoga identified three tools for living well: a body (“anna”), the Breath (energy or “prana”), and the Mind (sensations, thoughts & emotions or “manas”) and based these tools on 10 key values to be used in the practice to cultivate samadhi, bliss. In other words, as humans, we already have the tools to practice yoga, we just need to learn how to skillfully use these tools. This is called practice.
Yoga is the practice to cultivate joy, happiness and inspiration!
With practice we become more skilled at using the tools and adapting to the circumstances even when they are not ideal. When the practice becomes a consistent part of life, we reap the benefits and rewards of that consistency. The benefits of yoga are numerous and varied. Depending on who you ask and how they define the yoga practice, you could hear everything from cures for diseases, to magical feats that defy gravity, to the secret for opening a portal to bliss. At its roots, Yoga is a culmination of practices to improve the quality of daily life for its practitioners. Universally, I think we can agree that joy and happiness are high on the list of qualities of a “good life”. I think happiness is a modern, worldly understanding of Patanjali’s Bliss. And yet different interpretations of yoga have even been known to poo-poo on the aspiration for joy and happiness and the idea that bliss is attainable in our human existence. I see this as more a discussion of semantics, so I’ll leave that for another conversation 🙂
Yoga is a Living practice.
Yoga has been used to market wellness products, contorted to rationalize social systems of injustice and even appropriated to justify selfish ideologies and “spiritual” doctrine. The debate continues. We are human after all. I will continue to participate, and I hope you do to.
I don’t want to get lost in the on-going debates and controversies. So for the sake of practice, I return to my understanding of the purpose of yoga. From its roots with the Vedas to the aesthetic Buddhist monks, to modern day, Westerners hungry for spirituality in an ever-increasing mundane culture, Yoga continues to bring people together. To me, this is the heart of yoga: Its power to unite and connect, especially that which does not initially seem aligned.Yoga is union and the practice is to do the things that bring us together into oneness. Oneness with ourselves in body, mind and breath and oneness with each other as humanity, as life.
Just as the details of life are constantly changing, so is our understanding of yoga and the specifics of its practice. That’s why we call yoga a living practice. Anything that is alive continues to change and grow. To cease changing would be the first sign of death.
Practice in real life
People ask me all the time, “Do you do yoga every day?”
The question is not “Do I do yoga?”, but rather: “What will my yoga look like today?” Yoga is the intentional practice of cultivating authentic connection between body, mind and spirit. I call it Breathe. Move. Rest. and it is literally jut that. 5 minutes to center and breathe. 10-15min to purposely move my limbs and spine and 5 minutes to pause for rest. Check out these recorded variations on our YouTube. And as they say, please LIKE and SUBSCRIBE!
Yoga is more than the practice of moving our body in to shapes on our mats. Yoga is the way to frame our world view, the foundation of every decision and the fuel for every action. Yoga is the web of interconnected energies, efforts and intentions of life. If you want more Yoga philosophy and real life applications of yoga teachings in your life, it’s time to explore Inspired Shift and/or Yoga Living!
Yes, I do yoga every day. The more yoga I do, the better I feel in mind, body and spirit. And when recovering from hard things (which seems to be ALL.THE.TIME!), Yoga is my go-to self-care practice.
Today, I will begin again to be conscious and intentional about what I am building and how I contribute to the world. Today, I will pause to breathe, move and rest as a practice of connecting with inspiration and prioritizing my self-care. Today, I will practice in preparation for what’s next.
What will your yoga look like today?
If you’re practice isn’t cultivating joy and happiness, something needs to shift. If you’re not sure about HOW you want to show up or for WHAT you want to make space for, join me for an Inspiration Check-up.e