Becoming Mindful in my Yoga Practice

I just read an incredibly inspiring piece in Spirituality and Health.  The article “To the Sun, With Love” written by Shannon Wianecki, was about Wianecki’s personal practice of 108 sun salutations every Sunday.

Wianecki’s piece reminded me of the beautiful gift that yoga is to us all.  Her article didn’t negate the difficulty of the task.  Quite the opposite, the article started with what a struggle the task of this practice was.  Instead, what made this task possible for Wianecki was altering her mind set.    Wianecki, with the assistance of her teacher, Maya Lewin, shifted her focus from the postures itself to an act of devotion.

This shift in perception helped Wianecki accomplish more than the weekly devotion of 108 sun salutations.  In fact, she carried this positive practice into the rest of her life from purchasing her first car to overcoming other challenges that life provided her.

This article got me thinking that yoga is so much more than a series of postures. Yes, the asana’s are an important part of the practice.  However they are only of the limbs, the third limb, of Patanjali’s eight-limbed practice.  The postures help us to connect the spirituality and mindfulness to our body.  They help increase our concentration, focus, personal awareness and strength.  However; they do not make up the entire yoga practice.

Wianecki’s really touched on this in her article.  When she struggled with the strength of her body, she shifted her perception.  No longer did she fight to complete the asana’s instead her spirituality and devotion made the actions “fluid as one prayer led to the next.”

There are so many times where my focus for the practice is on how much I accomplished instead of my mind set.  Part of this, might be because of the world I grew up in.  I was trained to look for tangible achievements, always striving to do more.

In the next eight weeks, I am going to make a conscious effort to get back to the foundation of ashatanga.  Each week, I am going to focus on one of the limbs of the practice.   This week, I will start of the very beginning: yama.

Yama’s main focus is on our behavior, how we act in our world around me.  I am going to take the time this week to reflect on my actions.  How do my actions and behaviors impact others around me? There are so many interpretations of the yamas. In the fact, the Ten Commandments reflect the foundations of what the yama believes in.  However; for the next week, I’m simply going to strive to become more aware of the impacts of both my words and actions.  Here are some of things I’m going to strive to do:

  • Show gratitude for the others around me; not only by saying thank you but acknowledging something each member of my family does on a daily basis
  • Reduce my environmental impact

-Walk more, drive less

-Eat more local foods (something that is fairly easy to do in the summer months, but a practice I would like to carry into winter)

-Be conscious of the amount of possessions I bring into my household

-Spend more time outdoors

  • Allow my children to try things on their own, giving them both the time and tools to accomplish their own successes
  • Involve more prayer and reflection in both my own life and the lives of my family.
  • Become conscious of the amount of negative thoughts and ideas I have and try to change

I’m really looking forward to this week, and the next eight weeks of my practice.  I think both my body and mind need a bit of a shift.

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