I have just completed another teacher training program. It is truly a humbling and gratifying experience to watch people transform into teachers seemingly before my eyes. Participating in teacher training is like one long yoga practice. There is stumbling, loss of breath, then steadiness returns. There are moments of such intensity that the will is challenged, then the steadiness returns. There are moments of doubt, indecision, and defeat, then the steadiness returns. There are moments of imbalance and exhaustion, then the steadiness returns. There are moments or great exhilaration and joy, then the steadiness returns. This process, this practice, is a discipline. Everyone has experienced these moments in their lives. Moments of great challenge that require persistence and perseverance. Yoga practice provides a counterpoint, a balance, a stabilizing force to the constant change in our lives. Yoga practice can help to keep us steady and on course.
The classical definition of yoga is “yoga citta vritti nirodhah” which translates as “the effort towards steadying the mind.” Vrittis are waves. Just like the waves in life described above, our minds are constantly fluctuating. Our lives can swing wildly from one extreme to another, but our yoga practice is about learning to stay closer to center. Coming back to your center means returning to your steady state. A place that is unwavering and still. A place that is not changed by what is happening around you. Finding center, even for an instant, gives you a reference point. Staying on course first requires that you know where you are in the first place!
You don’t have to know exactly where you want to go. You don’t have to have a set plan or goal. What is just as important about staying steady and centered is knowing what you don’t want, knowing what you don’t need in your life, knowing what you think is not important and therefore not worthy of your time and energy. Knowing what is not important makes space for what is. Yoga practice helps put you in a state that encourages clarity of mind and body. Yoga practice helps you to distinguish the things in your life that are impeding rather than assisting your progress towards a steady and positive course. Summer is a high energetic time and is a good time to challenge yourself. The mind and the body like to be energized and moved and exercised. Use the warmth and energy of this time of year to stimulate projects, new ideas, and a regular practice, then the steadiness comes, and the vrittis turn into a calm, smooth, glassy ocean of possibilities.