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Once we establish a yoga practice, we on occasion find that we are not always as regular, consistent, and diligent as we would like to be, and a couple of things may happen: We can get discouraged and give up. We can become hyper-enthusiastic and then fail to keep our momentum going through cycles of practicing and not practicing, until we find one day we aren’t doing it anymore. The Bhagavad Gita provides a simple formula for how to maintain a consistent, diligent, and, most important, effective yoga practice. Yuktahara viharasya yuktacestasya karamasu | yukta svapna avabodhasya yoga bhavati duhkhaha: “For that person who is moderate in food, moderate in enjoyments, moderate in work, and moderate in sleep, yoga is the remover of suffering.” Even twenty-five hundred years ago, moderation apparently was the key to a happy life. We often think life was easier in the past, because there was no technology, no stressful city living, and so forth...but of course that isn’t true. As long as there have been people—especially people living in big cities—there has been stress. Here, I’ve outlined some basic suggestions and ideas to help you build a consistent, moderate, and effective yoga practice. What’s interesting about the above verse is that though we know that we need discipline in yoga, and that without it our progress is slow or does not come at all, it tells us that we also need to be moderate and enjoy life. Discipline does not mean rigidity. It means that we recognize that what we are doing is important enough to be committed to; once we recognize that, we choose our level of commitment, as in any relationship the more we enjoy what we choose to practice, the more likely we actually are to do it. Your practice should be something you are passionate about. Even if it is challenging or difficult to do at times,

it should bring you joy or fulfillment or a feeling of satisfaction that you have attended not just to your body and mind but also to that invisible part of yourself that is the essence of who you are. So while yoga is a discipline, we also have to make sure that we love doing it. That love for practicing will make our efforts at being disciplined softer and kinder. And then we will become that way, too.

IN REGARD TO YOGA PRACTICE

1. Decide how often you want to practice. Two, three, four, or five times per week—it is up to you. Even once a week is okay as long as you actually do it. Allow this to change over time. A daily practice might be too much for you when you first start doing yoga, but perhaps after some time, it will be second nature for you to wake up every day and do some practice 2. Choose the days that you will practice, and try to stick to them so it becomes a part of your routine. If you are practicing daily, make sure you leave at least one day for rest. 3. See if you can practice yoga at the same time each day. This is very important for forming a new internal rhythm, and will help to hardwire your new habit in you. 4. If you struggle to make it to class on your own, bring a friend or find someone who is also interested in making practice a regular part of their life. Community, called sangha in Sanskrit, is helpful for maintaining regularity in practice. Our sangha becomes our spiritual friends. 5. Appreciate and give silent thanks each time you practice. Congratulate yourself each time you practice. And when you finish, reflect on your efforts and let the feeling of that soak into you. In this way you will bring your practice into your long-term memory and it will become a part of the background character trait of your conscious mind. 6. Recognize that practicing yoga is 122

good for you. It’s a time for you to be with your thoughts, your body, your breath, and your potential to expand your capacities, all necessary things for us to take the time for. 7. If you find yourself getting obsessive or compulsive about practice, back off a little. If you are not able to temper yourself in your actual practice, then you may need to take a little break, or relax your discipline slightly. Eat some chocolate, go to a movie, sleep in. As soon as we become too driven about practice, we reinforce old patterns. At the same time, you have to watch out for laziness. Skipping one day of practice is okay, but be careful, because it can lead to skipping two days, then three, then many! 8. Yoga should create a feeling of vitality in you. Try to do your practice in such a way that you feel you are building energy, not depleting yourself. 9. It is not that difficult to build energy through yoga, but it can be difficult not to waste it. Considering lifestyle changes and examining addictive tendencies will go a long way toward preventing you from wasting your newfound energy. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says that practice that is like poison in the beginning, but filled with nectar or joy in the end is sattvic; practice that is like nectar in the beginning but like poison in the end is rajasic; and that which is like poison in the beginning and at the end is tamasic. Check to make sure your practices all fall into the first category. And of course, after some time, our practices can become a joy at the beginning and at the end. But sometimes they are just plain hard. That’s okay, too, and that’s part of why it’s called practice. Because regardless of how today went, tomorrow we have to get up and try again. From One Simple Thing: A New Look At The Science of Yoga And How It Can Change Your Life, by Eddie Stern and Deepak Chopra (North Point Press, 2019), $26

Profile for The Purist

The Purist Spring 2019 Issue  

Glory, Glory Julianne- Cynthia Rowley Interviews Julianne Moore Mary-Louise Parker's Meditations Eddie Stern & Deepak Chopra on the power of...

The Purist Spring 2019 Issue  

Glory, Glory Julianne- Cynthia Rowley Interviews Julianne Moore Mary-Louise Parker's Meditations Eddie Stern & Deepak Chopra on the power of...

Profile for thepurist