We all know the effort it takes to commit to a course of yoga. Here are some reasons why Yoga is best served with commitment and regularity:
Our Body Responds
Some people say they are not flexible enough for Yoga but lack of flexibility is actually a great reason to do yoga. Many people find that over time and with a commitment to practice, the body responds by becoming more flexible. This flexibility is accompanied by a change in posture. The effects of the practices are felt through a more open and upright posture and a firmer and more balanced posture. This opening is mirrored in our attitude and approach towards the world around us and this expansion is sustained by regular practice. A commitment to yourself
Yoga is an ancient tradition of purification, designed to rid the body of toxins and the mind of unhelpful thoughts and worries. Each time we practice we are cleansing ourselves of the things that don’t serve us or the thoughts that keep us cycling in old patterns of worry or struggle. As we practice yoga, we are clearing away the old to make space for the new. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, this happens over time and not all at once. By committing to a regular practice we are honouring and paying respect to ourselves in this mental and physical cleansing practice.
A Reference Point
Practicing yoga regularly gives us a reference point for a calm and relaxed state. Each time we practice yoga, it relaxes us. This is why we do it, but we all know how easy it is to become tense and anxious once we get back to the grind of daily life. By regularly tuning in to ourselves and revisiting this relaxed state, we are giving ourselves a reference point to a new way of being and over time we’re reminded of this more and more in daily life. This reference can help us compare the changes in our body and mind over time. From week to week we notice how easy or difficult relaxation can be, depending on anything from the weather to the demands of our family or work, but over time we also discover ourselves gravitating to a more relaxed and calm state. Distractions Abound
It is easy to grow distracted, even by things we think are good for us. There are so many diets, vitamins, health foods and exercises out there promising a better life. The media flood us with solutions ranging from relaxing holidays to spa treatments or radical dietary changes. We are told these will ensure we feel great and look amazing. Yoga reminds us that the only thing that keeps us feeling great and looking amazing lies within each of us. All we need to do is remember this and regularly return to this inner state of calm and peaceful abiding.
I look forward to sharing term 3 of the beginners course with you if you chose this commitment to yourself in the practice of Yoga. This term we discover the invigorating, yet balancing effects of Surya Namaskara which is a 12 pose sequence of practices constituting a complete practice in itself, and a great way to release tension and build energy.
San Kalpa is a yogic word that roughly translates as positive affirmation. We chose this ourselves and we keep this personal affirmation until we start to notice an effect in our lives. Each of the weeks we do Yoga Nidra in class we hold our attention briefly on our San Kalpa and here are some of the reasons we do this…
Yoga’s Internalising Process
We practice Yoga so that we can calm our mind and settle the inner space of our body. In doing this we face many distracting thoughts and restlessness. The ongoing practice of yoga and meditation gradually stills the chattering mind, calms the restless, tense body and leaves us with a sense of space, balance and ongoing wellbeing.
It’s within this space that we begin to be more deliberate about the the kinds of thoughts we’d rather have and within this space that we begin to affirm and take responsibility for a new reality for ourselves that is based in this new way of thinking.
Here are some guidelines for picking and sticking with a San Kalpa.
Use the Present tense
Us the present tense for your affirmation. Phrases like “I am..” or “I have…” are good. Avoid being to distant like “someday I will…” or “soon I will have…”
Keep it positive
Affirm your reality don’t deny it. Avoid phrases that start with “I don’t have any…” or “my pain is gone”. Use instead phrases that involve what you do want. “I have an abundance of energy, vitality and wellbeing”
Don’t want anything
Saying things like “I want…” can be a trap. The mind can create more wanting in response to this kind of affirmation. “I want more money” can turn into the experience of “wanting more money” rather than the experience of “abundance and plenty”. The mind simply delivers what you ask of it. Ask for “I want no more drama in my life and it will give you the experience of “wanting no more drama in your life”, which actually equates to… You guessed it… more drama. Of course if things are a little dull you might want just that, but wanting is no way to be.
Picture and feel your San Kalpa
Use emotive and powerful words or better still, cultivate an image or sensation. This is so that you imagination and experience what it is like for this to be true for you. Engage all of your senses so that you imagine what it is like to have a relaxed and flexible body an abundance of energy and vitality or even an abundance of money, if this is what you choose.
Remember in yoga we see the experience of life as being intimately dependent on the quality of our inner space. We all have the choice to keep looking to the outside world to explain why we feel the way we do or we can practice a new sense of responsibility for our experience and begin to create that experience ourselves.
This is the inner journey that Yoga and meditation brings on in us.
Have you ever entered a room full of people and picked right away what its going to be like? Have you sensed of the mood or energy in a group as you enter a space, or been in a group that had a “great vibe” or a “powerful energy”?
There’s actually nothing magic about it. We react to the energy of others. Our mood, sense of security and energy is affected by theirs. When we spend time with an uplifting person we feel good and likewise are there people who leave us feeling drained and sapped.
Through the practice of Yoga we become more aware of our own energy and that of others. Each pose stimulates a flow within us, releasing blockages that can inhibit us from our true state of being. A state of calm abiding.
In Yoga we don’t just stretch the body, but we also stretch our awareness into new aspects of our existence. We become aware of ourselves as comprised of energetic flow that changes over time. With a deeper awareness of this continual flow gradually we become the driver of our experiences in life, rather than the helpless passenger thrown about by the flurry of activity around us.
In Yoga we take our awareness inwards to an experience unique to each of us. We go into the world with stability and balance and we more easily bring joy to others when we experience joy ourselves.
By regularly training the awareness on subtle flows of energy within us, we develop the ability to choose how we feel, rather than let the feelings, moods, emotions and “vibes” of others –including those in our own family– dictate our experience of life.
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