Our high school worked on a semester system. For one semester (half of the school year), I had four classes. The second half of the year brought a new semester and four brand new classes. I loved the chance to let go of the first four courses and start over again.
We love to celebrate beginnings – births, springtime, the New Year, a new day. Beginning can also describe your approach.
In Buddhism, Shoshin is “beginner’s mind.” The idea is that you approach something familiar as if it is brand new to you. Leave behind preconceptions and expectations. Enter in with an attitude of openness.
Beginner’s mind in your yoga practice
If you have been practicing yoga for a while, you probably have particular sequences or “go-to” poses (I know I do!) There is nothing wrong with this. Butyoga is about being mindful and present in your practice – not just running on autopilot. So even if you have done a sequence many times, you can choose to approach it with curiosity and openness. As if you are a beginner. How would that change things?
Or have you ever gone into a yoga class and been led into a pose with totally different cues than you are used to? This can be jarring. And your automatic response might be “Oh but I don’t do it that way …”
But (assuming it is safe for you) why not try it? Yoga is about exploring. A new variation on a pose can snap you out of set patterns. You might discover something new in your body, an area that needs release. And you might discover something interesting in your mindset. It’s ok to shake things up!
Beginner’s mind in your day
Greet each day as if it were brand new – because it is 🙂 Let go of what happened yesterday and focus on the sweetness of the new beginning unfolding before you.
In yoga we often perform sun salutations as a regular part of our practice. They’re about honoring the sun, our primary source of light. In many cultures light is a symbol of consciousness and self-illumination. In Hinduism, Surya was the sun God worshipped as the creator of all life.
“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning. -J. B. Priestly
Invite a graceful beginning to the start of your day.
This week, consider starting each day with sun salutations and these intentions:
1. Practice them with a beginner’s mind.
Bring a special sense of awareness to the beginning of your practice. As you stand in Mountain Pose, focus on how you can bring newness to this pose (that you may have practiced hundreds of times!) It does not have to be something big – a slight shift in your weight or turn in the way you hold your hands.
2. Honour the sweetness of a new day
Perform your sun salutations at a slower pace than usual. Bring awareness to your breath and your movement. Use this ritual to welcome the new day and the new adventures that it might bring. Honor the sun; it’s warmth, light and creative power. And if you happen to catch the sunrise, take a moment to savor those first few rays of light.
Download this pdf version of Sun Salutation A if you would like a reference to follow. For something a little different, have a look at the variation below, meant to awaken intuition:
That’s it for today! Just hit reply to share your comments and ideas.
Image courtesy of Jim Liestman