A few weeks ago I held a casual Q&A session for participants in our current Teacher Training. Just before arriving my day was nonstop. It started at 6am and read like an impossible to do list. And it was day like many others, for many others.
There I sat, at 7:15pm, cross-legged in street clothing with several yogis midway through their 6-month Teacher Training journey. They had me for an hour, could ask anything about yoga, and the second question posed was one I have received countless times over the years.
“How do you do it all?”
It may seem like this student had quickly veered off topic, from yoga to my personal life, but I knew immediately that this was most certainly a yoga question, or one with a yoga answer.
At times my response to this statement/question/incredulity has been “I don’t!” and at others a furtive swell of pride. But this time, I was able to clearly state: my practice.
In Tantra, the lineage I am studying as a yoga practitioner, we acknowledge that everything takes energy. Doing, not doing, wanting, getting (and not getting), it all takes energy. Yoga practice is a way to cultivate energy, build capacity for that power, and learn how to use it wisely, with discernment, which means to me that we use it with purpose.
When I say “my practice” I mean that every day, with few exceptions, I hit the proverbial mat. I practice meditation with mantra, and then I practice asana, pranayama and bandha. It all takes between twenty and sixty minutes, however long I have time for, but it happens every day.
You may recall that this was not the case not so long ago. I had Spiraled into Solstice and it took a year to really come back out. Then 2013 was the year that I finally claimed practice for its true purpose, not because I am “supposed to” or because I “should.” I started to practice because when I do, I function better, when I don’t, I get crazy. Period. Sure, sometimes I have transcendent feelings of oneness and bliss, but mostly I am just doing my daily thing. I brush my teeth to avoid cavities (and gum grafts!). I use my neti pot every day to keep from getting sick. I take deep breaths, hold difficult positions, and try to quiet my mind every day so I don’t get anxious and and yell at my kids, or experience “dukha,” bad space. I practice daily because it keeps me sane, focused, and capable, able do “do it all,” or at least what I need to do.
Now, making any advisory suggestion here could taint your own commitment to practice with a “should,” so I’ll just offer a few tips: figure out what it is that practice does in or for your life, and get really interested in that. Take some deep breaths and notice how you feel. Hold a posture then pause when you are done and feel the effects. Also notice what happens when you don’t practice, and consider that life is too short and you are too precious for lots of that. Really. Fall in love with practice because of its inexhaustible well of presence, energy, and discernment, when you do it.
And have a Happy New Year!
And now go back to reading the 8 Limbs Newsletter!
Anne Phyfe Palmer
Owner and Education Director
8 Limbs Yoga Centers