Yoga is your life and you want to live your yoga. You may have taken teacher training.
You listen to spiritual music, podcasts and lectures.
Your clothes are all yoga.
You are very much yoga.
You have your community and you have your guide but the support you receive in a packed room full of sweaty bodies feels less authentic -- less you.
You compare yourself to those practicing around you.
You have a little voice in your head that grows with doubt about your practice and wellbeing.
The world around you seeps in. Not even ujjayi can help you now.
Where did the yoga go? How do I stop making myself mental about yoga? How do I create bliss in life?
Surprising enough, we rely a lot on what we consider or fits in the yoga ideological world view rather than the actual attainment of yoga. In short, our attainment in yoga is based on societal definitions of what yoga actually is.
No matter the claims —actual or media enhanced — yoga is something that is cultivated over time. Yoga is a doctrine of habit.
That may seem sterile, making yoga a mere habit or something done without feeling. Comparatively, when was the last time you felt blissed out brushing your teeth?
I am not trying to deflate the mental energy and pedestal that you put the culture of yoga on however one thing, for certain, yoga involves you!
Pretend yoga is a planet. That perfect planet with perfect balance. This perfect planet, planet yoga, is on a normal orbital pattern, moving around and the sun.
A few month later, the approach of another planet enters an equally perfect orbital pattern. During parts of your day, the orbital pattern of the second planet blocks out the sun. Light has been taken away.
The world, for a moment, has come into darkness — void of light and clarity. These moments of darkness are minimal but in a highly sensitive and concentrated mind these less illuminated hours can seem cataclysmic.
How do you gain light?
- Rule 1: Start a sadhana.
A sadhana can be thought of as means to attain something. At the root of this inquiry is truth. Truth is not meant in the opposite of telling a lie. Truth is something that creates a fixed aspect of your intellectual reasoning.
If we look back to planet yoga, truth is the planet is in an orbital pattern. The planet may be in motion however it is on a path. That path creates reliability and strengthens awareness. A sadhana does this for us mentally, physically and spiritually
What is cultivated in this understanding is not being the best at sadhana but coming into a clearer understanding of yourself and that which influences you, moves you, directs you in life. This develops something individually unique: self-purpose. Planet Yoga is moving with duty and so are you!
How do you get started?
A simple daily sadhana to practice daily
- Wake up slowly - Avoid electronics - Use the bathroom - Rinse your mouth, face and eyes with water - Massage the body with a brush of small amount of oil - Sit in a dedicated practice space (or on the same piece of cloth or material if you travel a lot) - Listen to your breathing and let that guide your meditation - Let your thoughts form and dissipate -- watch them but do not chase them - Follow your breath without disturbing the natural rhythm - Practice stretching, yoga asana or physical movements - Rest or take shavasana - Observe your mind and thoughts without control or judgement - Drink water - Walk to integrate your internal experience with the world around you - Give thanks and write any predominant thoughts in a journal - Slowly start your day
The practice is not long but detailed in taking the morning with ease and observing internal awareness. The most important part is observing the mind and breath without trying to control anything.
Paying attention to what is, without interference is the most critical part of our practices in spirituality.
Try to become very familiar with your inner orbital pattern and know that there is going to be one point, perhaps during the day or the year, beyond your control, where the view of the sun is not clear. Create inner light!
How do we see beyond the darkness?
- Rule 2: Cultivate Clarity
What was that!?
This passage comes from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in the second chapter and 33rd verse.
One of the best translations is from Kofi Busia. Mr. Busia offers the entire translation for free with chants on his site at: http://www.kofibusia.com/yogasutras/yogasutras2.php
Be sure to check out the free resource!
Mr. Busia translates the above sutra as follows: "When the mind is disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be contemplated."
This is practical, straight forward but maybe easier said than done.
Returning to planet yoga…
The other planet is blocking the view of the sun and darkness of thought is starting to enter your mind. It is now time to think opposite thoughts.
The mind loves to put words into categories. The category provides comfort on a mental level. This is why when a rule, that the mind sees as defined, is broken that a serious psychological reaction may result.
In plain view, we are talking about another planet on its own unique trajectory and purpose. Planet non yoga is not deliberately trying to stifle your light. A large amount of negative thought comes from thinking that there is an intentional harm aimed at you.
Cultivating opposite thoughts comes with practice. Being aware of your need to respond will remove frustration, judgement and reacting with harm.
The short analogy…try to continuously meet every heavy thought with an opposite thought. In our day-to-day that may not come with ease but elevating the plummeting mind is something that requires awareness and consistency.
A great tactic when meeting opposition in conversation is to say in your mind 'I wish you a good day and I know that ultimately you are trying to move through life according to your own purpose.' This simple technique is excellent for creating sound responses when dancing in others orbital spaces.
You can rework this phrase to something that suits your understanding of the situation. Take into account that what is coming at you is not applicable directly to you, it is nothing more than planetary trajectory in the form of someone being upset. We all get upset.
This exercise is especially helpful when we have someone we feel is directly influencing our positive attitude.
Pair this with change of scenery, listening to your breathing or other exercises and it should remind you of earlier in the day when you were practicing Rule 1. And if all else fails, say the most ridiculous word you can think of out loud — try, ‘BOM BOM!’ — and you will surely smile.
What can we gain?
- Rule 3: Observe and Develop Faith
Knowledge is something we tap into, allowing it to become us rather than something we impress our importance upon.
Observation is key here. Planet Yoga comes around, past the non yoga planet, out the darkness and you bask in the light! Everything illuminates and is vibrant. You observe the splendor and a spark of faith is grown within -- you are on your uniquely perfect and vibrant path.
Observation does a lot for us so look clearly within and how you respond to practices in Rule 1 and Rule 2. Be sure to allow for reflection.
When we reflect we are not remembering but offering serenity to that which is. In short: It really is what it is. There is no need to change, alter or make better as this would only disturb the process and rob you of faith.
Faith is that initial inquiry you had in the quest of yoga. That deep, indescribable feeling that there is something more in this world. That very inquiry you showed up to yoga with, you are now answering through observation of what is being cultivated within sadhana and what clarity you have come into.
All that comes up is brought into your wider lens of self-awareness and reflected in kind from planet yoga. You, yourself are becoming the sun!
I wish you a pleasant journey on Planet Yoga and should need orbital guidance, feel free to send me a signal.