Understanding the Practice of Yoga

May 02, 2010 By: Michael E. Crowley Category: Mind Body Spirit, Yoga

This is my debut post on Touchstones of the Sacred, and I’m thrilled to be joining a vibrant community of people who are seeking, like myself, to find a space in life that is truly their own and where they can rest and refresh themselves in the midst of the ever-moving world.

I use yoga as my primary means of fitness, so I’ll be posting primarily about things that I learn or come to understand from my daily sessions that might be of benefit.

I’m focused on the word practice right now, as in the practice of yoga. It’s hard to write about practicing anything without sounding like I’m about to impose a great burden on myself. I’ve learned, though, that

practice is the key that opens the door to understanding.

It helps me to reframe the idea of practice, to get away from thinking of it as being stuck in a rehearsal room as a child with a metronome, my trombone (my instrument of choice in middle school and high school) and a method book and instead think of practicing as the means that I use to open my understanding and transcend my limitations of the day before. It is a process I use to identify areas that need improvement.

Thinking of practice in this way allows me to embrace my bad days as well. I will make mistakes, or I may be too tired to do very much yoga that particular day. I have had the odd moment of simply collapsing to the floor during Four-Limbed Staff pose because my arms have given out, or of bonking my forehead on the floor during Crane pose because I’m improperly balanced. Understanding practice as an ongoing event rather than a commandment transforms it from drudgery into something that grants its own rewards the more it is consistently used.

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