Spend a few moments describing your personal yoga practice to yourself. Write it down if you’re game for that. Or do this exercise with a friend. What are the non-negotiables? Do you absolutely require a mat and bolster? Inside or outside? Do you bathe first? Is time of day important? Our personal practice gets to be all about us and the rituals we involve are what make it both special and consistent.
A friend of mine practices every day at 6:24 a.m. This is the time she was born, so she practices at that time to remind herself that she is, every day, again reborn and the world of opportunity and exploration lay in adventurous wait for her.
Rituals can be actions you take or involve touchstones and symbols. I have a regular student who comes to class twenty minutes early so she can claim her spot and set up crystals at all four corners of her mat. One rose quartz to remind her to be loving. One green jade to help her focus and build mental strength. One citrine for self-confidence and one malachite for courage. She meditates as others filter in, ignoring the noise and bustle to prepare herself for the journey she’s about to embark on.
They give everything just a little bit more texture and meaning. Say, for instance, you and your kids walk up to the local bagel shop to buy breakfast every Sunday morning. The owners know your order by heart, and it’s a ritual within itself to take this walk together every Sunday for sustenance. Adding in a few rituals on the walk can give this practice even more meaning. Stopping to play with a neighbor’s dog, naming the trees and thanking them for existing, or even playing a word game contribute so much to what could be a routine walk to and fro.
When we practice with intention and go the extra steps to cultivate meaning into our every action, we discover uncharted territory each and every time we come to our proverbial mat.
Start by developing a ‘Let’s Begin’ ritual. If you plan to practice in the morning, choose something you do immediately upon waking up. Perhaps you write down your gratitude list. Or maybe you dry brush and lather in sesame oil, and then cleanse. Enjoy and combining that ritual while practicing the niyama of saucha, purity is an incredible way to place yourself in the frame of mind to be the most receptive version of yourself.
You could choose to do a guided meditation or mudra practice. Choosing rituals that speak to your heart will provide you with a consistent way to signal to your brain that it’s practice time and it’s the priority. Rituals are a form of self-care. Take the time to take care of you.
In combination with your let’s begin ritual, choosing a specific place to practice helps too. Setting up a practice space in your home by creating an altar for yourself is a lovely way to encourage your continued practice each and every time you encounter that space. If you have the luxury of an entire room available to you, foster the ambiance with candles, essential oils and incense, props, and perhaps a book from which you can go to any passage for inspiration.
Three books to consider: The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, The Fire of Love, by world-renowned yoga teacher Aadil Palkhivala, and Pema Chodron’s Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living. You really can’t go wrong with any of Pema’s books.
If you love practicing outside when the weather allows, identify an alternate space that feels harmonious and conducive to your practice. You can travel there with your touchstones for continuity. The old saying, ‘Wherever you go, there you are’ comes to mind. Bring your you-ness no matter where you choose to practice.
Writing this has inspired me to further develop new rituals of my own. Just like us, the practice morphs constantly. But rituals remind us of the pillars and tenants that will always be near and so very dear to our hearts.
Spread the love