After all these years, I still find coming to the mat to be the most nourishing thing I do for myself. Though it isn’t always easy to get to the mat. Or even enjoy what is taking place beneath the surface of my skin while I am there. No matter the texture of the experience I am always grateful to have done it when I am through. Beyond gratitude in my heart there is in addition a general calm peace of mind and a quiet relaxed quality to my body. Type of practice, time of day, time of year, what is taking place in my life, what is taking place in my mind, are all variables that contribute to the quality of my peace and calm post asana. Yet, however fleeting, in all cases the nourishing calm holds me and reminds me of the unconditionally loving spaciousness of spirit.
I’m not sure this is anyone else’s experience but I like to think most are in some way similar. This is why yoga asana has become, and continues to be, so very popular. All that twisting, bending, breathing, and stretching really works. As some wise sage once said “quiet the body, quiet the mind, enjoy the spirit”.
Though I know all this to be true it is still not always easy to get on the mat. I have watched myself through the years avoid my practice at the hardest times when I knew it would benefit me the most. Perhaps that aversion is similar to holding onto anger. We hold onto anger to not have to feel the pain it hides, and coming to the mat always reveals what’s lingering beneath the surface. Other times coming to the mat has been the only solace in my life when everything else felt out of control.
No matter my own inconsistent habits and behaviors, I know that consistent practice is really where it’s at. Consistent practice cultivates nuance and growth, maturity and patience, fortitude and humility. Consistent practice sets a tone for everything that takes place off the mat as well, enabling the deep integration of what is garnered from practice and remains long after the asana has gone. With consistency asana practice becomes a long and steady candid voice narrating the story of truth, consciousness, and bliss through one’s life.
Cultivating any new behaviors or habits requires effort. For this reason, doing new things with the support of others is beneficial. Groups and buddy systems keep people motivated to accomplish a goal, as well as accountable for not showing up. In addition is the joy of the shared celebration of triumphs and successes.
In Sanskrit the word Kula translates loosely to community. A Kula is a group of people with like-minded focus. The community of a yoga studio is a Kula. Sharing growth on the yoga mat with a Kula enriches not only the relationships inside the studio but also beyond. Every time we learn to be vulnerable we empower ourselves to experience more intimacy in our lives. Yogic journeys are by nature vulnerable. The shared vulnerability in a yoga class transforms fear of intimacy into openhearted courage and a desire to truly know others with the ability to connect, another powerful gift of a regular and committed practice. And a Kula is not limited to the community within the walls of a yoga studio. The yoga Kula is world-wide and as diverse in its stylized forms as the world of people who practice.
This holiday season we at Shree invite you to join the Kula and commit to practicing through the season as a gift to yourself and your spirit. As Suki so beautifully wrote about recently we are offering a special yoga challenge which will support this gift to yourself. (All info on our website.) However, you don’t have to be here in Taos or practicing in the walls of Shree to participate. Feel free to play wherever you are. Connect with self and others. Remember even if fleetingly calm that nourishes, expands, and stokes the fire of your heart. I’ll be there and I hope you will too.
With love, always, in all ways, for giving, in joy,