As we wax and wane as individuals, there becomes a time when our actions – which almost always are fueled by our thoughts – demand some sort of change. Exercising our bodies and starting a meditation practice are two of the greatest activities we can continue to do or start doing to make the changes we wish to make successful.
The physical practice of yoga – meditation with breath and movement – this simple practice takes on a great role and supports us in our goal for change. The practice alleviates our suffering because it offers us a clear mirror into what is going on. We choose to witness what is happening because the breath shows it to us for free. It invites us to take a step away and look at our actions and thoughts with clear eyes. Notice next time you go for a run…what were you thinking about? Almost always you were thinking of your breath, and you (most likely) stopped identifying with the pictures or memories you witnessed (your thoughts).
Our breath and our sweat offers a slideshow of our better selves. And there is no better time to watch this than right in the morning when we first wake up. Try not to look at your phone, read the news, try to NOT check Twitter…instead, start a healthy morning ritual – have a cup of warm water with lemon or a cup of coffee or some tea – and get in the shower and brush your teeth. Then a quick dress and a quick trip out the door, and you are on your way to yoga. Get to your meditation on the breath and mind right away, almost as soon as you wake up.
Your yoga practice is an endeavor just for you. We call this style of yoga, “Mysore”, or even with a smile and a giggle, “Oh, am I sore!” This is a physical yoga practice where we yoke the mind with our breath. We do this in a series of postures linked together with movement (vinyasa). There are embellishments to this simplicity – specifics of where we look (drishti), what tools we need to hold our posture (bandha), and what we meditate upon (dhyana). These are secondary actions that just dress the initial work: we are moving and breathing and most importantly, watching our breath through the variety of postures. This could be done 1-hour, 3-5 days a week. This is because in the beginning we have to learn how to breathe and apply all the technical bits and bobs plus keep ourselves safe by progressing at the right pace.
With time this daily yogic practice could be longer; some days it is shorter. This is because it depends on what is going on with us. Some days I practice almost two hours, others forty-five minutes. It is my intention to witness my thoughts, and invite the somatic aspect of the practice to shine: I want to feel what has been hidden inside, I want to witness that and move through it, or just look at it with clear eyes and act.
Now why this is helpful towards change is that this daily practice – a little bit every day – brings us more clarity about what we did yesterday, how we are going to live today, and even, how we are going to make changes. It is through a regular practice – done at (roughly) the same time every day – where we find ourselves accountable. You want to be fit and feel better about yourself? This will warrant a little bit of sacrifice on your part. What do we sacrifice? That morning lie-in! That extra portion the night before, or maybe even that extra hour we stayed up watching our favorite TikTok…these are mere examples of what could sabotage the yoga practice the next day.
There is no better time than now to begin a little bit of yoga with a set routine than a daily Mysore programme. Having a teacher there at the same time every day, supporting you to breathe and move is the perfect way to cultivate an established yogic practice. And this style of yoga – Mysore ashtanga yoga – sets you up for success.
When you practice in the Mysore style, you don’t have to follow someone who is learning something advanced or altogether contortionistic! You move at your own pace with your breath and are taught a sequence of movements that are right for you. The teacher walks around and gives personal instruction to every student through verbal cues, demonstration and adjustments. The Mysore environment is a place where often the room is super quiet and all you hear are people’s breath; however other times, people are often laughing or chatting as they learn a new posture or try something unusual and difficult. Humor, passion and spirit keeps things joyful and light.
There may be times in the Mysore room where the teacher just walks around and assists with their hands only – moving one’s body into the right position without verbal cues. And this is golden as often we can see and try to copy what someone else is doing – but feeling it in one’s body is the key. This is how you will be taught in the Mysore room.
Happy holidays to you and see you on the mat, yogis!
We invite you to join us on 3 January for focused and joyful Mysore practice with Sarah Durney Hatcher. You can find more about Sarah by clicking here, learn more about the programme here, or book here.