November 9, 2020

Integrating Yoga: Living the Practice off the Mat.

How do you know when the practices you are doing, on and off the mat, are transforming your life?

Can you see and sense into the subtle and gross effects of the hours spent in your relationships, in your sense of self-worth, in the person you are becoming, and in the beliefs and ideas renounced? Or does it still feel like the practice is isolated and somehow different from daily existence?

I fondly remember stepping into the start of a three month yoga intensive at Yasodhara Ashram. We were asked to reflect on what we were hoping to gain from participating in the course. I thought to myself, as someone who had been practising Hatha Yoga for over a decade, and daily, “I want to start to see the changes in my life” and that is what I said.

It felt like there was a disconnect. I would start my morning practising, breathing, in prayer, and still my life felt disjointed. It was apparent in the way I carried myself and in my interactions with others; something wasn’t coming together, maybe I was doing it all wrong.

The truth is, I wasn’t doing it wrong; I was misunderstanding Yoga. Yoga is not something I do on my mat, it is a way of being in and with my world. I knew then that I sincerely desired to live the practice; not as an idea or something I “do,” but as a way of living, genuine and whole-heartedly.

What is cultivated and the changes that happen will take on a life of their own—if we let them. It can seem scary, unpredictable, and brimming with unknown variables. If we don’t fight tooth and nail to perpetuate what is familiar, we might discover wonder and awe in the natural spontaneity of life and our place in it.

Have you ever thought about it: What is the reason for your practice? Where do you aspire to see changes? What you do there and the way you live here, is there cohesion? How can unity become present and the apparent separations illumined? How do you live what you have learned and inspire others?

For the knowledge gained through personal experience to flourish and bloom, it must take root. We are on the Earth; the teachings, a seed. Sow the seed watered by your dedication and commitment, and tend, with care, to what grows.

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