This year I’ve been reading the book Mediations From the Mat. It is a 365 day journey to help you understand Patañjali’s yoga sutras. I’m kind of cheating in that I started the book in Nov and only on day 50, but as the new year catches up with my reading I’m slowly syncing my 365 day scorpion challenge with the book. As anyone who follows me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook would know Handstand Scorpion is the physical goal I’ve set for myself, but as is the case with Hatha yoga, the posture or Asana is only a tool to help you practice yoga.
It is great to show up to class and work on your strength and flexibility, but at some point you might start to wonder how to take your yoga practice deeper.
Here are some of the other struggles I’m currently working on to deepen my yoga practice:
This is something I will always be trying to improve. I still catch myself in class wiping my eyes, adjusting my hair, and bending down wiping the sweat off my legs–but I have the intention not to. I don’t get mad at myself when I do, but rather remind myself to not do it again.
Being still is not an easy task as it involves not acting out on impulsive thoughts. Knowing me I had a very hard time learning how to calm my head and learn to just ease down and be still.
This is the best you can do. Have the intention to be more still in your practice today than you were yesterday. Some days this may happen, others it won’t but the best you can do is try every day.
I choose to use my practice time as a quiet time to pray. Ideally I like to get into the studio early to pray before class but if I am running late I take the time to do it after, before I rush off to whatever else I’m doing.
Prayers are intentions. By taking the time to pray you send energy into the universe setting thought towards action. Through prayer God (whichever you choose to pray to) can answer your needs or lead you to a place where you realize you may not need what you thought you did.
Prayer is a powerful medium allowing you to work through you thoughts and wants setting you closer to making whatever you pray for a reality.
Day 42 in Meditations from the Mat is a lesson in brahmacarya. Many choose to simplify this 4th yama simply as “chastity”, but the literal meaning of brahmacarya means “walk with God.” Iyengar said,”To focus on celibacy is to miss the power of the final yama altogether. Brahmacarya is not a call for abstinence but a call for temperance.”
“As we practice brahmacarya, we have the opportunity to enact the balance that is yoga in all that we do. We can bring brahmacarya to our thoughts, words, and deeds. -Meditations from the Mat
Moderation can be a difficult thing. We as humans like the black and white. The do or do not.
“Brahmacarya is the feeling of freedom that comes when we have let an addictive craving go–when we can eat to live, not live to eat; when we can work to live, not live to work; when we stand firmly and with ease of heart in the postures of life.” Meditations from the Mat
Many think the answer is to give up a vice completely–and yes maybe there are vices that should be completely given up, but there are also many that aren’t so bad in moderation. Giving something up completely means when you do give in you fail.
Creating rules that set you up for failure lead to negative self talk and can actually lead you to binge in whatever vice you may be trying to cut out.
The freedom of moderation leads to a healthy state of mind and physical well being.
“On the middle road I am free; in immoderation I am compromised, sidetracked, shackled to negative self-talk. As we experience these lessons, we begin to learn the extent to which the choices that we make affect our inner world. We begin to see that the only peace to be found comes through moderation.” -Meditations from the Mat
I’m getting better at this in class but struggle with being present in my day to day life life.
In class I remember I used to count down the postures in my head.
At this point there are times I find myself thinking at rabbit there are only 3 postures left.
I used to think about this at camel when there are 4, and before that as we early at locust pose when there are 9.
The progress is that every now and then I find myself in savasana never having thought how many postures are left.
Those are the best classes. I have the power and strength to do that every time.–However, I struggle with the discipline to get there every time, but I’m getting better day by day!
The same discipline applies to life, but that is tough with all the distractions we have in our lives.
For me particularly I find huge distractions on my phone!
One tool I’ve started using to help keep me focused on specific tasks is Toggl.
Toggl allows me more time to be off my phone so I can be more present in my daily interactions and use my time more efficiently.
I’ve made it a goal to spend more time working out and reading then I spend on facebook and watching tv. It’s pretty humbling when you log your time and realize that isn’t the case.
These are 4 struggles that I’m working on both in and out of the yoga room. I may not reach my ideal each and every day, but every day I work on them, just as every day I work on the asanas to help me achieve handstand scorpion I am happier and one step closer to my goals.