The practice that lasts

The practice that lasts

Yoga Practice

So often I hear people drop in and out of their yoga practice due to various reasons: loss of drive to a weekly class; the next door’s pulse-racing class seems more promising to an hourglass figure; financial obstacles; a teacher that cannot teach or inspire, etc. The question remains: why can’t we commit to the practice that is always at the back of our mind? What makes us go astray despite all the benefits that have been documented and proved? The ever-changing priority lists that become the confetti at our work desk says it all. I know it is a cliché to say that as long as we set our mind to it, the words will become actions.  But this motto stays truth no matter what.

What keeps us dedicate to a task, routine or a promise is a persevere and confident mindset towards building higher self-esteem and generating good faith that carries us along the journey called Life.  Allow our yoga practice to become part of our day or stage of life, just like everything else that we survive on – eating, drinking, sleeping, resting, working, etc. Once the practice is carefully installed in the hard-drive (our mind), removing it would be involuntary.  The actual yoga practice itself subsequently cultivates dedication, passion and love that always have their place in our survival kit. Here are a few useful tips to establish a lasting friendship with your yoga practice. Find yourself a yoga teacher whom you can connect to and has the spark of inspiration on you. Traditionally, yoga was practised on a 1:1 basis where the student would learn from his/her master (knowingly the ‘guru’) devotionally along the path for as long as it takes to gain spiritual knowledge towards the Divine.  The guru therefore is the disciple’s life-long guide to pass on the true knowledge of yoga without attaching to the vices of ego, desires, self-righteousness, laziness and an untamed mind.  With the abundance of well-trained yoga community across the world, give yourself the opportunity to find your soul mate. And given the great invention of cyberspace, widen your vision to reach your hands to those respectable yoga teachers whom you may not yet have the chance to meet on your soil but whom you can still delve into the library of the ancient knowledge with the spice of their personal insights and wits through various instructional contents such as articles, videos, practice notes, interviews, etc.

As the community of yoga teachers continue to blossom, their passion branches out by sharing their live classes at a surprisingly reasonable cost in the form of downloadable audio tracks onto your iTunes or affordable DVDs. These audio classes have been my ‘ghost teachers’ for a number of years, at the convenience of my domestic duties, work and social schedules.  I was in full control of my own practice without having the embarrassment of touching somebody’s foot in Supta Padangusthasana or kissing somebody’s butt in Prasarita Paddottanasana whilst still hugging to the radiating energy and voice from the podcasts!  Admittedly, audio or DVD classes tend to be more user-friendly to frequent learners than raw beginners in views of tuning in to anatomical expressions and the actual practice flow. Thanks to the true passion of many yoga teachers who also offer precise, detailed explanations of some seemingly very simple poses like Sukhasana (cross-legged seated pose), personal experience has told me that novices are no longer in desperation.

Thirdly, add a bit of TLC in your practice which incorporates some of your favourite poses. Any yoga poses bring certain physiological, mental and bio-chemical benefits to our being. In the onset of your journey, be flexible in choosing what poses or moves you are going to explore for say, each 30-min practice without being too adamant on which part of the body needed to be worked on or achieving certain mind-boggling, admirable poses.  Be brave in creating your own sequence that makes you feel good afterwards – isn’t this what we eventually seek out? When the practice becomes delightful, the chances are, you will start to rejoice at every moment on the mat and soon be more creative and adventurous in the future practice.   One of the fascinating pull factors of practising yoga is that it allows us to unlearn the known and unfold the unknown so that we can meet ourselves again with a pair of clear lenses.  When we are able to find steadiness, ease, fun and pleasure from engaging in the practice, we are more likely to soak up those benefits with a willing mind and body.  In the early stage of my yoga journey, I was amazed by those who can devote a daily 2 to 3 hours of asana and meditation practice.   As I continue to deepen my own practice, the endearing expression of dedication and fortitude is no longer a mystification but rather a quality that I dearly hold on to.

If you have brilliantly become a happy 5-A-Day eater, you have all the potential to affix your yoga practice into this formula and lay aside a 6-A-Day plan with the addition of a latex-free mat or a cup of Chai! Abiding by this new plan is a leap forward to raise your determination and stamina threshold.  We all recognize the betterment of life potentially brought by yoga whereas regular devotees, however, also recognize the importance of actions which manifest this conclusive percept by means of integrating knowledge and yogasana (asana practice) into their livelihood.  In essence, it all starts from a few self-fulfilling mental notes (or even mantras if you have a favourite one) and a ready-steady-go body.  The 6-A-Day plan is only sustainable when we renounce our habitual inertia and readily-made excuses.  Until we have direct experience of the divine power through persistent physical and mental training, even reading the most profound literature about yoga or meeting renowned masters will only be a flash of intuitive trigger.  Each and every practice is a drop of nectar to the goal of reaching the upper limbs of the Ashtanga Yoga, namely Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (pure bliss or consciousness) where human boundaries are dissolved.  Our inner potential is like a hibernating ‘serpentine cobra’ (also as one of Shiva Rea’s regular pose in her Prana Flow sequence) which can generate immense strength and vigour when awakened.   It is the key to hidden possibilities.  To access it, our physical body must do the work first.

When we are in a pose struggle-free and joyful, we find our sweet spot (Sukha).  Every yogi is working towards creating this state of being as the practice gets tougher physically and mentally with the presence of challenges, resistance and outside distractions.  This is a journey for life. It never ends or stops but continues to be either dragged backward or drawn forward.  The choice is ours.  If all the abovementioned cues do not take you anywhere, screen through your belief systems which dictate your attitudes and behaviours.  What we do and how we behave is the projections of what our mind does.  Every little tweaking steers us closer to the path of harmony and serenity of our own Self.  At the end of the day, even the most accomplished yogi has to remind himself/herself that, nobody said life would be easy, but they just promised that it would be worth it!  The journey is as exciting and rewarding as the destination which may never even come in our life time. All we can do is to enjoy the ride and be a fearless and maybe slightly stubborn recipient of this precious gift that is bestowed upon us.

Dorothy Watts

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Hope you have found these tips useful. If so please leave me a comment and let me know. Or if you have a question, or something of value you can add I'd love to hear it.


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