Awareness arrives. And with it, sweet, slow breath. Without a moment to spare, the monkey mind awakens. Come back to breath. Stay with the breath. Monkey mind wants to know what day it is, what time it is, what’s on the calendar. Come back to breath. Stay with the breath. Monkey mind wants to rehash yesterday, last night, that rueful comment, that ridiculous TV show. Come back to breath. Stay with the breath… OK, I have to pee… And so my day begins.
I was asked recently if I have a daily “routine” to start my day. The person that asked knew I was a yoga practitioner, but she didn't really know what that entailed, other than stretching, which she thought would be a good way to start her day. So she asked, Do you do it every day? What time? What “stretches” do you do? She wanted specifics. I took a deep breath.
How we start our day can seriously effect the tone for the rest of the day. For that reason alone, it is not a bad idea to begin our days with mindfulness. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that even monks and nuns are not immune to the monkey mind that can thwart our best intentions of a peaceful awakening. Yet that doesn't mean that we have to succumb to the madness. And it doesn't mean that we have to awake at 5:00 am to meditate, pray, and/or practice yoga for an hour or more. We silly humans have a tendency to make things so much more difficult than they need to be.
Whether you realize it or not, you probably have a daily morning “routine” already. Bathroom, brush teeth, shower, dress, coffee, etc.. We lament the fact that there isn't time for much more, especially a yoga practice. Well, I call bullshit. You’d be surprised at what little effort it takes to make a change. It could be as simple as rolling out of bed, and placing your feet on the floor with the words “Thank You” . Boom! There you go. You started your day with intention and gratitude. And then before you rise to stand, take a deep inhale, lift your arms up as you stretch your spine, and then exhale slowly as you let your hands fall to your sides. Done.
Oh, but that can hardly be enough!! Right? That is nothing!! We must do more! More! More!
“On this path, no effort is wasted, no gain is reversed. Even a little practice will shelter
you from great sorrow.” The Bhagavad Gita
It IS enough. It is NOT nothing. If and when you are ready for more, you will do more. But some days you won’t. Some days, that is all you can muster, and that’s OK.
Yoga is a practice of awareness. We practice yoga with the understanding that what we learn on our mats, the awareness we cultivate, can eventually work its way into our everyday lives. So, yes, it would stand to reason that spending time on your mat on a regular basis might be a pretty good thing. Perhaps that means taking a class once or twice a week. Excellent! Maybe that means a home practice as well. Excellent again! Just remember, your practice is YOUR practice. It is not limited to a time of day, and it is not to be judged worthy or not worthy based on how many minutes or consecutive days you devote to it. It is not to be compared to mine or that of your teacher, or that of that girl in class that seems to really have her shit together.
That being said, if a home practice is calling you, the most important suggestion I could offer is to make it simple. Find a place that you can designate for your practice - room, a corner of a room…wherever. And make that space sacred with reminders of your journey; books, pictures, statues, etc.. Keep your mat rolled out in that space so that it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to throw down a few Sun Salutations. Some might see that as guilting you in to practice. Well, I grew up on Catholic guilt and I understand its’ effectiveness. As wrong as it seems, it kinda works. You just CAN’T pass that mat without being pulled toward it! And once you step onto it, and take a deep breath, and begin to move, you realize it wasn't guilt that brought you there at all. It was the pull of something far greater. A connection to Self. A connection to Spirit. A connection to Truth. Awareness.
However you practice is perfect. Simply start where you are. And then trust the process.