My photo
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Jun 27, 2011

Morning Practice

For the past 3 weeks we had "Summer Mornings".  Each day we met from 7:30 - 9 am for practice. It was the same group for the full 3 weeks - no "drop-ins" - and as always happens when there's an established and committed kula we were able to go deep. Here's a short re-cap.

My intention was to encourage people to begin, or go deeper in, their daily (home) practice.  Studio classes are important as they allow us to deepen and broaden and do more than we would on our own.  And the "two or more" dynamic that comes with a class is powerful. Practicing together creates an energy that just is not available solo.  Finally - in class you get some good teaching and feedback, and you become part of a community of practice.  There really is no good substitute for regular classes with a good teacher. 

But the daily (home) practice is also important - and is something that is valuable to do every day - whether you have a studio class planned for that day or not.  

I suggested some "basic elements" for a daily practice:
  • Arati (candle lighting - perhaps to a picture of your Guru or teacher or to an image of the "True Teacher" that is meaningful to you - Jesus - Buddha - etc.)
  • Pranayama
  • Chanting
  • Asana
  • Meditation
  • Inspirational Reading /  Poetry 
  • Journal / Intention (Samkalpah)
I talked about the accordion principle - (thanks to Paul M.-O. for this image).  On any given day - depending on your schedule, you might expand or contract - accordion style - each of the elements.  A crazy-busy day might be: light a candle, say "om namah shivaya"; take 3 deep Ujjayi breaths; continue in deep Ujjayi breath as you do adho mukha svanasana (down dog) for 3 minutes; sit quietly for a few moments; write one sentence of intention, or even just one word, like "kindness".

Through the course of the 21 days we moved through a balanced variety of poses. The first week I had fun dusting off my Iyengar approach to sequencing the days of the week. I followed that approach for years - practicing from the back of Light on Yoga - before I began to practice and teach the Anusara method. I owe much of what i know about asana to having followed that discipline.

The theme for the 3 weeks was Light - and "Inner body Bright".  I brought in a lot of poetry to inspire and encourage a deeper interest in, and commitment to, practicing in a way that binds you to the Light.  My aim was to encourage a deeper experience of practice as a reliable way to tether yourself  to the Light - so that when the distracting siren call of the 10,0000 things of your daily life comes up- as it always will - you will have restrained the periphery, bound yourself to the core of Light at the middle of yourselves (slender as a spider's thread, brilliant as a million moons) and be able to act and respond fully and generously from that place.  

Below are a few of the poems I used.  Hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading!

.....what you can plan 
is too small for you to live
what you can live
will makes plans enough 
for the vitality hidden in your [practice*]

David Whyte
(*original is sleep)

the breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
don’t go back to sleep.
you must ask for what you really want.
don’t go back to sleep.
people are going back and forth between the
door sill where the two worlds touch.
the door is round and open.
don’t go back to sleep.

Days full of wanting. Let them go by without worrying that they do. Stay where you are inside such a clear, hollow note.

Inside you are so sweet. Beyond telling. The cathedral there so deeply tall.

Human Beings are not born once and for all on the day their mother gave birth to them. Life requires them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Again, the work starts as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.
Hopefully you got some good rest last night. Why go into the city or the fields without first kissing the Friend who always stands at your door? It takes only a second.
Habits are human nature. Why not create some that will mint gold?

No comments:

Post a Comment