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When you come to your daily practice, do you have a purpose?

There are many ways and many reasons to come to the mat.  Is your purpose to create energy?  Maybe today, the focus is on building strength.  Some days, restoration is needed – a gentle practice that is nourishing and embracing.  So what is your purpose for today’s practice? Do you know?

It is important to be aware of what is happening within our bodies, and what kind of practice is needed. Every day that we come to the mat is a new day, and an opportunity to feel our body in a new way.  We could say, and I have, that every time we come to the mat we come with a new body.  Who I am today is not necessarily who I was yesterday.

We see this all the time. One day, you reach down and touch your toes easily, and the next you wonder why your fingers dangle just above your knees as you move into a forward fold.  One day, balance poses are all over the place, and focus seems like a distant concept that you only vaguely remember hearing about, quite possibly in some other reality.  Other days, our mental focus is sharp, breath is even, and we feel as if we can stand as a tree forever.

What about days when we are physically unwell? – a cold, the flu, exhaustion.  Do we push ourselves into a power practice when we don’t feel well?  Or could your purpose be to listen internally, and take the practice that allows the body to heal?  Can yoga be just a date with your neti pot?

It is not important whether we have a 3 hour daily practice or a 5 minute daily practice.  Nor is it important that each yoga practice look a certain way.  Today, a strong 2 hour asana practice that incorporated strength, and focused on precision was perfect for me.   Yesterday, and other days recently  my yoga practice included just 5 minutes of breathing, or reading one of Patanjali’s sutras, or a nourishing spiritual text, or a poem.

There are many ways to do yoga, to live yoga, to be yoga.  How we yoga is less important than the actual  doing of  yoga.  We come to our daily practice, and we listen to ourselves, and listen for our purpose, and in doing so we honor our who we are, in body, mind, and spirit.

“Yoga is another word for a way of living,
where one gives as much importance to happiness and peace of mind
as to one’s material comforts.”    ~ Dr. Jayadeva

My Practice Today

I attended a 2 hour higher level class this morning – and it certainly kicked my practice up a notch!  Great class – working with precision and integrity.  Among other things, we included work to open and release the shoulders and armpits, as well as strengthen the upper back and arms. We worked in poses such as downward dog, hand stands, and upward facing bow pose. Incredible instruction, allowing me to discover, yet again, a whole new way to open in the poses.  My shoulders went from feeling tight, achy and stiff to open and freely movable, the way they are designed to be, and yes, my upper back is a bit sore.  That good kind of oh-yes-I-did-something-right and on-my-god-i-found-that-muscle sore.

My purpose? What I needed most today was a practice that immersed me completely in the moment, grounding me in  my body and getting me out of my noisy  mind for a bit.  Today, my purpose was to tap in to my strength.  I found a place where I could push a little harder,  find new edges, and feel the challenge of greater power and precision.

What is your practice today?  Do you know your purpose? Listen…. what does your body tell you?