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Day 4, Rooting Down January 14, 2011

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 21-Day Challenge, Changing Perspectives, Fitness, Health, Mantra, Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Philosophy, Twin Cities, Yoga.
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Day 4, Rooting Down

Everybody has a day that reinforces the need for a day off. Sometimes it’s a Saturday. For most of my adult life it’s been Monday. This week it was also Thursday. I woke up early with what I consider a primal urge to cuddle…barring that, to huddle under the covers. (Maybe today some part of me knew it was going to snow and just wanted to hibernate.) Either way, once reality sets in and I realize I have to get up, I sit and breath.

Again, whether we realize it or not, I think that urge to pause, sit and breath is primal. Even my house-mate does it. Sometimes we don’t even realize we do it; which means we miss a significant moment to clear the fuzz from our brain, wake up (literally and figuratively), and start the day fresh.

Prior to starting Yoga Journal’s 21-Day Yoga Challenge, I started most days by formally sitting and breathing for at least 5 minutes. I say “formally,” but it wasn’t anything fancy. Sometimes I added a mantra, pranayama, or guided myself through a meditation. But, more often than not I just observed my breath, reminded myself I was not thinking. Since I planned on doing the 17-minute So Hum meditation during the challenge, I figured I would skip the 5 minutes at the beginning of my day.

Skipping my 5 minutes at the top of the morning worked OK for Days 1 – 3, but today I had to hit the floor running – that is, of course, after the cuddling and huddling. So, Day 4 started with 5 minutes of sitting and breathing. Once the fuzz cleared, I headed out to teach. While I demonstrated some of the poses during class, I really didn’t practice any asana until the end of the day. (Unless, of course, you count “Shoveling Snow Pose.”)

The 30-minute Standing Poses sequence with Jason Crandell was amazing. Just as advertised, the focus was on aligning and refining. I had several a-ha moments as a student, but even more as a teacher. (As in, “A-ha, that’s how I fix that sassy hip problem I see in class all the time.) Granted, there was at least one time when I thought, “Yeah, I get why he’s doing it that way, and I’ll try it, but I don’t see myself practicing that on a regular basis.” Of course, I’ve said that about certain alignment techniques before and then blissfully eaten my words. Since steady practice (abhyasa) and self-study (svadhyaya) are key elements of yoga, it’s not enough to just do it – you have to actually practice something to see if and how it works. Anyone interested in deepening an existing practice, reviving a practice, or starting brand new should consider the Day 4 sequence one of those “keepers” on which you can build a life’s worth of practice.

My legs felt phenomenal, and more than ready for 17-minutes of deep seated meditation. No fidgeting today! I’m use to a lot more upper body engagement during my daily yoga practice, so I found I had to be much more conscious about holding my arms and torso in the proper alignment. But, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, today’s practice reinforced the fact that the physical practice is intended to prepare the mind-body-spirit for deep seated meditation.

The fact that our physical practice should prepare us for deep seated meditation is something we hear (as students) and say (as teachers) all the time. Still, I always wonder how many people in the modern world – especially here in the Americas – are actually following their physical practice with an extended meditation. If we did, I wonder how our physical practice would change.

~ NAMASTE ~

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