Being dedicated to the study of yoga means that sometimes you find yourself watching Yogaglo classes in the bath at 11.30 at night. This was me yesterday. I was evolving my theme for the week and getting inspired by some old school Anusara classes.
Marc Holzman was my master of choice and I marveled at his skillful delivery and layering of the theme and principles of alignment into the body. His theme was discipline and devotion. He’d been inspired by a talk with his teacher, the venerable Paul Muller Ortega, who had explained that discipline is love. When we begin on a path we have to work. Hard. It’s all new and something is driving us to that work but eventually it stops becoming work.
Soon enough, a shift happens and we start to find ourselves on our mat, at our desk, at our easel, with the kids – whatever your calling may be – and it feels right. We want to be there. Eventually, some kind of magic occurs and you want to get up and meditate in the morning. You want to come to yoga more than once a week. You want to develop a home practice. You want to know more about your body, how it moves, why it feels so damn good when you do yoga. You fall in love with your practice and it moves from discipline to devotion. And then you find yourself watching yoga classes in the bath at 11.30 at night.
So what’s all this got to do with sun salutations? Well that’s where it all begins. Those foundational asanas and vinyasas are the first steps towards a dedicated practice and mastering sun salutations takes loving discipline. It takes time to lower down through Chaturanga Dandasana in a straight line without dropping your shoulders or your hips. It takes time to understand what the hell your teacher means when she tells you to move your ears back or outer rotate your upper arms. It takes dedication to keep coming back so you can get clearer and stronger. It takes discipline but soon enough that will all melt into something like devotion.
I’ve been doing sun salutations for many years and I’m still learning. Every time I hinge at my hips, I’m thinking about the inner rotation of my thighs and the engagement of my core. When I halfway lift, my awareness rests in my shoulderblades. One day I will be able to float from Uttanasana to Chaturanga Dandasana without a sound and, as I shine my heart forward into Urdvha Mukha Svanasana, it’s my little toe and the sides of my neck that hold my attention.
It’s not hard to become devoted to a practice that focuses on the tiniest details, while reminding us of the biggest possible picture. One that connects you to your highest self and reminds you to look up at the sky and see the sun. One that gets you reconnected to your body, helping you to build strength and flexibility. Yoga is the practice of empowerment and it is the dedicated practice to your own unfolding. Every time you step on to that mat, you grow. And every creature on this planet is here to do that one thing. Grow. Who wouldn’t be devoted to that?!
Come and step up your sun salutations with me and join me afterwards for a soulful candlelit flow.
With love and devotion,