It’s the season of planting, weeding, watering and growing! I love spending time in the garden. In the summer months, when I’m not in the studio, you can usually find me outside. I love the work of the yard and garden. That’s not to say that I know everything about it, but I enjoy the practice of it. Gardening for me fulfills a curiosity about what we can grow. That we can take seeds, put them into the ground, and with the right combination of water, light, warm earth and care, the seeds grow into full, strong plants!
Growth doesn’t happen overnight. Growing anything takes time, consistent practice, and patience. It takes a heartfelt desire to do that thing you want to do. In the process of growth, there will be shining moments of clarity and beauty, but mostly the day-to-day efforts and practices to achieve your goals one step at a time.
Whether it is tending your garden or practicing or teaching yoga, here are some questions you can contemplate.
As a student, why do you practice? What does your practice mean to you?What does your practice teach you and how do you apply that to your life?
As a teacher, what calls you to teach? How does your practice and personality strengthen your teaching? What do you want to learn? Can you be your best student?
I have been re-reading Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and his second chapter on the practice of yoga. Sutra 2.1 breaks down the practice in 3 parts and is all about growth. This Sutra is the yoga of ACTION- Kriya Yoga. “Doing” something is tangible, and this Sutra is super accessible.
Sutra 2.1: Tapahsvadhyayesvarapranidhanani kriyayogah
Tapas: Tapas is described as heat or fire, transformation and discipline. The practice of yoga heats you up; it changes you. It changes what your body can do, it changes how you think about yourself, it changes how you relate to other people. The process of transformation implies something is left behind or gone- there is a metamorphosis into something new. My husband is a goldsmith, and he talks about heating gold to burn off the impurities before he pores the gold into a mold. The other principle of Tapas is discipline- it’s showing up again and again, consistently, for a long time. For yoga teachers, that means teaching many classes to develop your voice, train your eye and master how to effectively teach intelligent yoga classes. For students (and teachers!), it’s showing up to your practice, again and again, even when the going gets rough. Discipline also implies there is a PURPOSE for the practice. It’s not yoga just for the poses- there is a bigger reason for the practice!
Svadhyaya: Besides being the most fun word to say (!), Svadhyaya is self-study. Observation. What does your yoga practice teach you about yourself? What have you learned? What do you want to learn? Teachers, notice what you do well. Celebrate that! Also, notice where you need more training and more practice. Read up, practice with your teacher, ask questions, attend workshops. Learn from everyone you practice with, teacher or student. Yoga is a unique practice that provides the opportunity to notice your breath, how you feel, and your thoughts and emotions while moving and breathing on your mat. Can you do this without latching on to how you feel? Making assumptions about what is possible? This can be tough. My advice? Keep practicing! Practice with awareness!
Isvarapranidhana: Classically defined as surrendering to a higher source, Shiva Rea calls it the “big picture yoga: the shift of perspective that helps us to remember, align with, and receive the grace of being alive”. Not giving up, but believing in our reason for being, trusting our life’s path, going with the flow, living our life ON PURPOSE through the great space of the heart. It is the “teacher of all teachers” that carries us through life. Believe in yourself. Believe in your personal journey. Trust your path. And be ok when your path goes sideways, as it certainly will. Growth is not a straight shot from here to achieving your goals. It is a back and forth, up and down, side-to-side flow that is slowly and intentionally moving in the right direction. Show up and live your life authentically. Practice often and with heart. Learn to love the life you create.