Does this sound familiar?
You go to your local Yoga Studio once, twice, maybe five times a week. The fact that you are continuing to show up to class, proves to you that something is urging you to discover the next layer. It soon becomes apparent that yoga is not just practiced in the studio on your yoga mat. You are finding that one thing is for sure: There is more at work here than what happens within the bounds of a drywall box.
I have found that Yoga Classes (practicing asana, or the yoga postures) have been just the beginning of my journey. For me, asana is a core component of my spiritual practice.
However, the practice of asana is just a slice of my spiritual pie.
Here is the key: The asana practice creates a “portal” transforming “time” into a feeling of joyous acceptance, rather than a sense of a fanatic imperative on the face of a remorseless clock. In these moments, my mind is clear and a feeling of music vibrates through my being. I have found that it in this dimension, time is no longer an affliction, but rather a space in which new ideas and inspirations come easily. Over time, I have been able to incorporate this feeling of mindfulness in other areas of my life, however I had to start somewhere.
And this is how I got started…..
My yoga path started with Bikram Choudhry in Los Angeles in 1976. I was 21 years old. I needed to heal my body from a life threatening motorcycle accident where one of my kidneys was removed, I broke my shoulder, and cracked my skull. In the process of my recovery, a few people mentioned Bikram’s name to me, and I figured that I had nothing to lose.
I soon found myself in a hot room standing next to Kareem Abdul Jabbar of the L.A. Lakers, sweating and pushing myself to keep up with the pace of these rigorous classes. I went to yoga classes four or so times a week – either the 7am or the 9am class, which Bikram always taught himself.
After each class, I found myself wanting to learn more at a deeper level. Especially after the last pose of the sequence, Savasana. (Savasana is also called “corpse pose” or “relaxation pose”, which helps me integrate all the work I had just done throughout my body). After Savasana, I found my mind to be as quiet as a moth, and my body was as still and bright as Venus in the sky at night.
For the first time in my life,
I was clear and undiluted by distraction.
Every atom in my being felt happy and in agreement.
I woke up.
This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Since the beginning of my journey, I have developed a few simple habits to practice yoga once my class is “finished”. I still practice these simple disciplines today.
Immediately after the final pose of Savasana:
- I read spiritual literature. After my asanas, I remain present in the sweet stillness and coursing blood through my body. I choose a book from my home library to study. I purposefully do this anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on my day. When I read it, I put my full concentration and attention to the words. (To see some of the books I read, click here)
- I clean up my space. Mindfully, I roll up my yoga mat and pick up my book, bolster and reading glasses, blow out my candles, clean up any ash that was created by my burning incense, and essentially put things into its proper space before I continue the rest of my day. This is in respect to the space that allowed me to experience stillness.
- I say “hello” to the inner light in all creatures. The first living creature with whom I come into contact immediately following this period, I make a conscious effort to greet them. Since I usually end my practice before the sun rises, this is usually an insect or a bird, or my Australian Shepard (above is a photo of my sweet doggie Tillie, who left her body peacefully last week ) . Or the baby raccoons that live on my roof.
In order to grow our Off The Mat community, please let us know:
- What do you do to help carry that sweet feeling after your yoga class is finished?
- What new good habit are you wanting to incorporate into your ritual after your next Savasana?