WHY CONSISTENCY, NOT NECESSARILY VARIETY, IS KEY
I recall several years ago jumping into this yoga class somewhere, and as we were waiting for the instructor, I overheard a lady sitting next to me as she was chatting with a friend. She was going on about how much she loved the instructor and this class because “it was never the same class twice.” Remembering that brief encounter made me think about how much my own perspective has changed since I first became interested in Yoga.
Yoga always struck me as such a positive, life-affirming thing to do, and I was lucky. The fellow who would become my first teacher offered to flagship his new certification program with two other women and me entirely for free, insisting that he wanted to give back what he was given. I studied with him for two years. He was the first of several teachers I’ll always feel gratitude for, but it was a long time before I really felt like I had tapped on what I was really looking for.
IT’S NOT ABOUT ENTERTAINMENT
I have to admit that I also began teaching with a kind of sense that I needed to entertain people, which left me feeling that I was leading them towards an unclear end. I had never really locked onto a personal practice that took on any meaning until nearly 15 years later when I went to an Inner Engineering course & Shambhabi Mahamudra training with Sadhguru in California. Honestly, this completely rearranged my perspective on the purpose of asana and the intention behind whatever practices one chooses to do. I threw out most of my instructional videos and previous books that I had collected and lost interest in teaching classes in anything resembling the way I taught before. In fact, for the most part, I don’t teach anymore. I far prefer to practice instead.
I’m not advocating a right or wrong method here, but instead sharing my own personal experience that sticking to a single practice for long enough can create a whole new kind of depth for those who genuinely have difficulty like I did. I had just been bouncing all over the place between stretching, working out, and trying to keep students entertained. Behind it all, I knew I had not touched on anything other than the more superficial benefits.
SITTING IS THE NEW MOVING
I’ve always known from an academic standpoint that tapping into our most profound nature is available purely through sitting. Still, it was only with regular practice that I actually experienced it directly. Sticking consistently to the same practice day after day, as simple as it was, resulted in a significantly more open body. But over time, something more profound began to occur. I began to experience greater ease with slipping into deeper and more meditative states quickly. Which, by the way, became the new whole point of everything.
It’s available and waiting for everyone who seeks it. Many silent retreats will emphasize this point by actually prohibiting anything other than just sitting and breathing.
It’s not something you “do.” It’s something that’s already there and always has been.
So now, yoga asana is no longer choreography or entertainment or any kind of workout. I use it solely to prepare the body to sit in meditation, and I sit throughout the day when possible in addition to my regular times that I commit to never miss. Check out my blog on taking regular “Silence Baths“.
AGAIN, WITH THE ENLIGHTENMENT STORY
Sorry if I’m repeating myself here. I do like to tell this one in multiple blog posts, lol. I’ve heard enlightenment described in two ways: The first is like a queen who has been asleep for decades and who slowly begins to stir and nearly opens her eyes, but then drifts back to sleep over and over again until one day, she gently but fully awakens. The second is the light switch version: “click” you’re fully awake.
I think most of us are definitely going to fall into the “queen” scenario. I come to great epiphanies and have earth-shaking personal experiences, only to drift back into life and responsibility and distraction again and again.
And that’s okay. It’s part of the process.
A ROCK THAT CAN HOLD YOU STEADY
A steady and sure practice has become like a rock that I keep fixed on in whatever weather is happening. This, while keeping an open and curious mind towards an increasing intensity that may just flip the switch. Yogis would advise to train in expecting nothing and get attached to nothing either as things open up. My advice is to begin by setting your need for lots of variety aside. Exchange entertainment and the pursuit of discipline for the opportunity to allow consistency to do its work on you. Get a meaningful practice, and try giving it a “mandala,” or cycle of 30, 45, or 90 days.
CALL TO ACTION: Meditation is a skill that you can and should learn, especially as you take your journey into your 50’s and beyond. The health benefits are legion, but created a deeper connection to the essential source within each of us will steady you through rocky times. Begin with my simple Silence Bath as a daily practice, and then consider learning more through formal training such as the Shambhavi Mahamudra mentioned above.