Sadhana: My Daily Practice

My Sadhana, or daily yoga practice has evolved through the months I have spent in yoga teacher training with Yoga 4 Love. Before starting my lessons I had never heard of the term sadhana. “Sadhana is a Sanskrit word that means a daily spiritual practice. It’s the foundation for your personal, individual effort to communicate with the divine inside of you and all around you. It is the main tool you use to work on yourself to achieve your purpose in life.” (www.terragraceyoga.com › blog › 40-day-sadhana-practice)

One of the first tasks I had to do when getting started on the 200 hour training was to begin my daily sadhana practice. The director Lisa taught us that it could be as small as lighting a candle every day and immediately blowing it out. You are creating a space to stop and connect with your inner self and be in the present moment. As my knowledge grew about the yoga traditions and the ‘why’s’ behind the physical part of the practice, my sadhana shifted constantly.

Here are many of the options I’ve used:

One of many ever shifting sacred spaces I’ve created for my sadhana
  • journaling
  • reading spiritual books
  • lighting incense
  • using my mala (can be substituted with rosary)
  • lighting candles
  • mantras
  • pranayama (breathwork)
  • walking in nature
  • gazing at flowing water
  • reiki work
  • intentional eating
  • burning sage or palo santo before meditation
  • practicing meta (loving kindness)
  • listening to soothing music
  • learning new healthy recipes
  • using lotions and oils for personal massage

At first when I began I became obsessed with getting everything right. Doing the same rituals over and over again at the same time of day. This didn’t help me in the long run and for my busy life with work, wife and baby it was unrealistic. It made me feel guilty if I couldn’t get the time set aside that I committed to. Once I made sadhana an organic part of my daily activities by weaving it throughout my day, only then did it start to change my life.

I didn’t need to sit on my meditation cushion to reconnect with my breath, or write in my journal at the same time of day. The spontaneity made the practice more pleasurable and less like a chore that needed to be done along with my already too long list. In bringing it into the flow of my life it gave me more opportunities to live in the present moment and see the beauty all around me, even in stressful situations. It then becomes your daily practice and a tool to be used whenever you need it.

If you wish to create more mindfulness in your life, start small and don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to feel anything. Just light that candle, look at the flame, and blow it out. That simple action is like an acknowledgement that you are worth taking care of, that it is okay to slow down even if just for a breath of a moment. This practice all comes down to convincing yourself that you are worth the time. Your mental and spiritual well being should be at the top of your list. Our culture would say otherwise, so training your brain to believe it is most of the battle.

You are not being selfish by taking care of yourself. You can only lend your energy to others if you have enough reserves to give in the first place. Start loving yourself and it will change the world you see around you. Your intention is the most powerful action you have. It is the difference between misery and true overflowing happiness. Make yourself the priority to avoid burnout. You are needed at your full potential and self love is the only way you’ll get there. Have fun!

Love & Light.

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Self-love for the Self-loather

I am reading “The Path of the Yoga Sutras” by Nicolai Bachman and I am on the Eight Limbs of Yoga (Astanga). The Yamas and Niyamas in the eight limbs are like the yogi’s equivalent of the ten commandments, the ethical practices and personal self-care to have a more pure and happy life.

The yamas: 1. nonviolence, truthfulness. 2. not taking from others. 3. conservation of vital energy. 4. nonpossessiveness

The niyamas: 1. cleanliness of body, heart-mind, and surroundings. 2. contentment 3. practice causing positive change. 3. study by and of oneself. 4. humility and faith.

The yamas were pretty clear to me, having been raised in a Christian household. The niyamas were a little different. I had really never learned about self-care growing up. I knew that certain unhealthy foods that I ate would make me gain weight and that smoking was bad for you, but delving deeper into my psyche and my inner goodness was somewhat foreign. This was no fault of my parents. They had given me a good moral backbone and kept me on a virtuous path the best they could.

My journey of learning more about yoga has been fast tracked by my work with self-care, thanks to my teacher Lisa Ware and her teacher training. At first I didn’t understand why I had to do all these self-care assignments about affirmations and taking time for myself. I was there to learn the poses (asanas) and teach it to others, that’s it! But I didn’t realize that most of yoga IS that self reflection and meditation. The physical asanas are grand, but all they are intended for is getting the body ready for deep meditation. I was blown away by this.

I had a lot of years of self-loathing under my belt and at first this process did not seem like something I could do. How could I look in the mirror and say ‘I love you’ while looking myself dead in the eyes? The thought almost made me sick to my stomach. I wasn’t even in one of my depression spells and this seemed impossible to achieve. I had put myself down for so long that lifting myself back up out of the blackness seemed like a herculean feat that I couldn’t do on my own. But with some guidance from the sutras, my teachers, my wife, my friends and my yogi tribe I have come a long way to crawling out of my negative headspace to a place of hope.

I think the first step was agreeing that everyone is made of goodness, and if that was true, I was too. No matter how many dark patterns (samskaras) I found myself in over and over again, I could break the cycle and start fresh. I was never a lost cause and I was worth finding. Once I truly believed that, so many of my samskaras were glaringly obvious to me and I was able to counteract them and breathe through my normal patterns to make a better choice. It felt like I had control for the first time in a long time, but looking deeper at the feeling, it was surrender.

There is so much in this world we cannot control. The more we try, the more helpless we feel. The real way to contentment (santosa) is to discern what we can do ourselves and what we need to let go. Just like the serenity prayer ” God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It makes perfect sense that it is the prayer used for people who are plagued by addiction. We are addicted to our patterns, they make scars from their constant use and it is hard to get out of those ruts. We have to take the time to search inward to see that we are magnificent and deserve happiness.

The universe (god) will send us what is needed on our path to grow and learn so that we can give our love and gifts to others. We also bring into our lives what we attract. If we are clouded by hate and negativity, we will bring more of that into our lives. We need to start with a strong foundation, and that is fed by loving-kindness to ourselves. A quote I love and try to live by is from Rupaul “If you don’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen?” Truer words have never been spoken!

Please try and take some time for yourself, especially in this hectic holiday season. Feed your soul first, so you can be present and give to others in your life. You are the jewel in the lotus, growing from the muck and shining from within. You are worthy and you deserve it!

Love & Light!