When the term “yoga practice” is used in our current society, it is usually assumed to mean asana- the demanding, uplifting and wonderful physical movements we enjoy in any Open, Spiritual Warrior, Beginner’s or even the lighter Restorative and Yin classes. Asana means a seat or connection to the earth, so tuning in to our connection is a vital and important practice. However, if our only “yoga practice” is the asana on a mat in a class, we might be missing something (or a lot of things).
Sadhana is the concept of a conscious and consistent spiritual practice. As we embody sadhana, we become sadhakas, the people interested in engaging these practices. Expanding our toolkit and integrating yoga into all areas of life is a magical opportunity… And we have been offered a beautiful process to do just that!
My first exposure to yoga was through asana as a young person living in NYC, and I continue to practice an average of 10 asana classes a week. I love the physical practice and honor it as a powerful tool, but I found myself longing to bring my practice off of the mat and into the world –where the real yoga actually happens. When my teacher (and many of yours) Sharon Gannon first mentioned writing a book about her own daily practices, I was immediately excited and more importantly intrigued. After so many years of sadhana, what was it that she found the most important to do every single day?
Sharon has offered us a tangible, simple way to shape how we start (and subsequently shape) each day. I didn’t realize how unconscious my waking up had been until I started practicing “Awakening the Way”: waking up with a simple, intentional mindset of gratitude. It seems simple enough. But personally, I find that as the day moves and stress enters the picture, it can be hard to remember gratitude. So, not only do I start those first moments in gratitude, and reminding myself of all that I have that makes my life joyful, I also carry a little stone as a reminder. I have to say, it is eye-opening and encouraging to feel this in my pocket or my bag throughout the day, especially when I’m having a moment at the same time I touch the stone!
It’s only from a place of gratitude that I can experience the following steps in this Practice, which starts with offering blessings/good wishes to others and then using a moment of my time and energy to feed the birds. The birds wherever I am are wild, beautiful creatures, who end up teaching me yoga with every seed I’m able to offer.
Then, asana and dance offer solid, functional, and consistent practices of (and for) the physical body, and followed by more subtle mental practices like meditation.
Relaxation, the final step, is sometimes the hardest for me because it seems like moving and going should be the norm. There’s so little time in the day, right? This practice allows me time to honor the value of relaxation. There is time for balance and time for exploration, and above all the time to just be. Time to move from a path of pure effort into a path of grace- and to give it away, to offer it up, to make this moment greater than myself. And in those spaces, it’s so much easier to step outside the challenging moments we face and see how trivial many of them are!
The fun part about these practices is that there is room to mold and shape them into your life. Asana and chanting have always been vital practices to me personally, and I’ve enjoyed incorporating both of them into my Magic 10 & Beyond practice. So many possibilities lie within what is been offered to us here. If we think we know what yoga is, there is always more to learn!
Over the past year since the book’s launch (we’re actually coming up on the one year anniversary this June 19th), Sharon-Ji’s teachings have provided a very real, very accessible format to expand my practice beyond where it had ever been. It has grown out beyond the limitations of who I think I am, and I’ve found an almost unbelievable place of endless possibilities- a place lit up with love, with joy, and with a spark of magic!
I’ll meet you there.