Yesterday I made it out to one of my favorite classes. I spend so much time focused on teaching each week, that sinking into being merely a student for 90 minutes is blissful. As I returned home a light, fine snow began to fall. By bedtime we had about an inch, which is a big deal in Portland, Oregon USA. This morning the weather had shifted into a predicted ice storm and we settled in, not wanting to brave the roads. I’m watching icicles continue to form as the day lengthens, it is expected to freeze solid again tonight so any thawing happening will be ice again soon.
Why am I giving you a weather forecast? Well, today is a perfect example of why we cultivate a practice, a Sādhanā, that is personal and portable, that doesn’t require a particular place or other person to facilitate it.
On a business trip, staying in a bland hotel? No problem, you have your own practice. Camping on a mountain lakeshore with no facilities? No problem, you have a personal practice! Winter weather has your iced into your home, like I am today? You’ve got this, it isn’t a problem when you have a practice you can rely on.
The first of the Yoga Sutras informs us that, “Now begins the practice of Yoga.”
This has a lot of meaning and layers to it, but for me the first layer of meaning is about being fully present in the moment. When you are present, feeling the breath in your body, and in awareness of the whole self, that’s Yoga. Since being in a state of Yoga is a matter of mindful attention, no special place, person, or set of props is necessary to get there. You’re already there!
How you express your Yoga, through movement (Asana, the postures), breath, (Pranayama), or through cultivating that focused, present awareness, Dhāraṇā, through meditation, is up to you. Keep in mind that a practice that includes some of each of these will best nurture the whole mind / body system. My daily practice even includes time for self-study, Svādhyāya, through journaling.
The whole point is that you always can practice. Now is when practice begins!
Not sure where to start?
- Set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes and stand or sit, being mindful of the sensation of the breath moving in and out of your body.
- Tree pose, right now, as you’re reading this blog post! Standing Cat/Cow, some side bends (moon pose), or how about a Dancer!
- Get into a comfortable seated posture, set a timer for a few minutes, and practice slowing your breath down. Expanding the inhale as deep as comfortably possible. Slowing down and completing a full exhale.
- Don’t worry that you don’t know the names or the “right order”, just do your favorite poses for a few breaths each, or longer. Try moving in and out of them with your breath, creating your very own Vinyāsa, flowing sequence.
- Consider a private session to create a personalized practice that best suits the needs of your whole body and life!
Photo courtesy of Christie Koehler, 2017