The 1 goal of every practice

IMG_5378I constantly find myself in a go-go-go mentality.  Always wanting to check items off of my to-do list, feel productive and accomplished.  Forever busy.  This attitude, though, has no place in a yoga practice.  Actually, this attitude is why I need a yoga practice.  Yoga is about slowing down and finding stillness, whether that stillness is physical, mental, or emotional.  Can’t you twist yourself into a pretzel?  Who cares?!  Can you practice what is good for your body at that time?  Can your practice whip your mind into the present moment?  That’s what matters- finding stillness and letting go of anything else going on in your life or in the world.  Yoga is about being with yourself and just your breath in stillness, a place where the mind and body can both relax.

In a recent article titled, Witnessing the Yoga Scene Around the Country Makes Me Consider Closing my Studio, Robyn Parets stated this sentiment perfectly- “To me yoga was and is about quieting the mind, breathing, finding stillness, feeling grounded and balanced. It’s about moving in a way that makes sense and is rooted in anatomy and yogic science. It’s about being honest with yourself and your students. It’s about knowing your limitations. It’s about slowing down so that you can listen and hear your own inner voice—the voice of intuition. It’s about finding stillness amid the activity.”  Ahhh, she read my mind.

IMG_4712Yes, it’s OK if you sweat during your practice.  Yes, it’s OK to listen to music instead of your thoughts.  Yes, it’s OK to feel a sense of accomplishment the first time you’re able to do headstand.  BUT… all of these things are just tools to find your stillness.  The goal of every practice is to achieve that moment of stillness, when you’re body is at ease and your mind is 100 percent present.  The more you practice, the more you can take that feeling of stillness off your mat and into your daily life.  Russell Simmons responded to the question ‘What is yoga’ (in Yoganonymous’ Russell Simmons: What is Yoga?) by saying “Yoga is not a physical thing. Rather, we use those physical poses to help us realize a state of grace or yoga.”

The next time you find yourself rushing through your practice or worrying about all the things you should be doing instead of practicing, just breath.  Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is your chance to let go of everything else.  The world will be waiting for you when you’re finished, no matter how long you take.  The more you can relax, let go, and just focus on yourself, the closer you may get to a ‘state of grace’.  My new mantra for practicing is ‘simply finding stillness’.  Hopefully stillness through yoga is one of your goals as well.

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