When Does Your Practice Show Up?

A traditional definition of yoga, from Patanjali’s Yogasutra is “yoga is the cessation of reactivity in the mind”. This is one translation… and there are many variations of it… but they share a common idea that: yoga is a state of equanimity, steadiness, inner calm. A revealing part of this definition is that word “yoga” is not described as something you do, but rather a way of becoming, a possible way to navigate your life.

For 2,500 (or arguably longer), the practices have arisen to serve an individual’s path towards the goal of Yoga. They’ve taken on innumerable forms – you are probably familiar with asana (postures), breathing exercises, meditation, the introspective things that you choose to do at a particular time, and in a particular way. But there are also life practices of ethical / mindful / devoted / wise thought, speech and action. When the scope is widened to include a way of approaching life, there is not much that can be left outside of your yoga practice.

It’s important that we don’t end our practice when we spray down our mat, slip on our shoes, and leave the practice space. It’s perhaps obvious to say this, but if we do compartmentalize our practice to 1 hour / 3 times a week, we’re missing the point of practice, whether our goals any combination of physical, mental, or spiritual. How and when do you bridge your “yoga practices” with your “life practices”? Where does it show up?

In answering this question, it can be helpful to turn back to the definition of yoga above, with a twist: Are there situations of your life, where you know you can be reactive or on auto-pilot, where instead you surprise yourself and reveal a (perhaps slightly) more grounded and present-focus response? These moments relate to what you do in your formal practice, even if the connection is not direct and obvious.

For example….

  • How you meet your partners gaze when asking them “how was your day?” even if its happened thousands of times before?
  • How you talk to yourself when you hit your head on the corner of the kitchen cupboard?
  • How do you spend the first five minutes when you wake up? Or before you go to bed?

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