On Being a Student of Yoga


I came across a new (well new to me) term this week – adhikara. It is Sanskrit for studentship.

Since you are reading this, I am guessing you are already student of yoga in some way! Maybe you go to classes, practice at home and perhaps teach yoga. Adhikara is about all that and more. It also implies ownership. It is about bringing a full-hearted, dedicated and consistent effort to being a student. This resonated with me!

How can you bring this sort of passion and growth-mindset to your yoga practice? 

1. Practice consistently.

This is a big one for me. Whenever I practice regularly, I feel far more connected to my yoga practice. Daily works best for me because then it is not a question. It is just something I do. Even if it is only for 10 minutes, in my experience, short, regular practices are better than occasional long ones.

But it doesn’t have to be daily. Maybe you have a favourite class that you can commit to once a week. Or a couple of mornings you can do an online class (lots on YouTube and YogaDownload.com). It is about the commitment.  Make a plan. Follow through. Make your practice a priority. To me, this is adhikara.

2. Be receptive to learning and open to possibility.

This past weekend I attended a Hatha yoga class. We were practicing Cat/Cow flow. I have probably done it hundreds of times over the years. The instructor was walking around making adjustments. She suggested I try it with my knees closer together. I was surprised but I did it. I found it gave me more stability and space in my lower back. Cool!

Being a dedicated student means to be willing to let go of old habits and thought patterns.

Even if you have a regular home practice, it can be of great benefit to attend classes. You can get tips, gain new perspectives and insights. Don’t be afraid to try things. This is growth.

3. Own it.

When you step onto the mat, own your practice. As much as you can, bring your focus and awareness into the moment. This is not cliché, new agey talk. Actually do it. Try to let go of whatever is happening in your day. Bring your full attention to what is happening on your mat right now. When your mind wanders, just bring it back to your body and breath.

You may have heard a yoga teacher say, “this is your practice.” Take these words to heart and take responsibility for everything that happens on your mat.

Try new things, yes (see number 2 above!) But if something doesn’t resonate, drop it. Listen to your body. Push when it says go and back off when it whispers stop. Own your yoga practice relentlessly.

Actions to take

The third chakra, Manipura, is the seat of willpower, strength and courage. When this energy center is in balance, you feel self-confident. It is a transformative energy. As a dedicated student, this is imperative!

1. Stoke the fires of transformation by focusing on poses that support the core of the body and create heat in the navel area where manipura chakra is located.  For example:

  • Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana I) to build strength and stamina in your legs, create a solid foundation and build heat. This pose invokes feelings of strength and power.
  • Navasana (Boat Pose) to build and tone muscles in the core.
  • Paschimottanasa (Seated Forward Bend) to turn your focus inward, to move with purpose and intention. Hold your awareness at your navel as you breath.

2. Incorporate meditation into your day. This will help you gain clarity. And it only takes 5 minutes. As William says in his inspiring and practical article on meditation, “it will transform the potential of the day.”

This week set an intention to embrace adhikara. Own your yoga practice relentlessly! It’s my new battle cry 😉

What does being a student of yoga mean to you? Just leave a comment below, I love hearing from you.

 Image courtesy of uncene

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