“The known formula for happiness is: Commitment will give you character. That will give you dignity. That will give you divinity. That will give you grace. That will give you the power to sacrifice. Then you’ll feel achieved, and you’ll be happy.” – Yogi Bhajan
Commitment is a word that brings up a lot of emotions and thoughts for me. I love the idea of being committed to my well-being, in my relationships, friendships, to a daily yoga practice, to my values, etc. Some yogis approach their daily practice in a very intuitive way; show up and just see what happens. I personally love this approach, it feels like it is answering to what the body and mind needs in that particular moment by tuning into yourself. Then there are other traditions that stick to the same sequence or meditation for a certain amount of days or perhaps you stick to the same sequence for years! Personally one of the styles I practice is Kundalini Yoga and this tradition commits to 40, 90, 120, and 1000 day sadhanas. We do this to start to instill life promoting habits and to get rid of habits that no longer serve us, we build character by learning to commit and show up. This idea of doing the exact same thing every day stirs up major resistant inside me because I love variety and feel that the body needs it. BUT, I do see the value in sticking to the same practice or meditation for certain amounts of time, this is where the work happens. It is not always comfortable or fun but it does make us confront the parts of ourselves that we don’t always want to face.
“One part of sadhana should stay constant long enough for you to master, or at least experience, the changes evoked by a single technique. Each kriya and mantra has its individual effects, although they all elevate you toward a cosmic consciousness. Learn to value the pricelessness of one kriya, and all others will be understood in a clearer light.” –Yogi Bhajan
How have I dealt with this seemingly contradictory way of practicing? Well, it just so ends up i`ve decided to combine the two so that I get the benefits of both!
Here are 5 ways that I set myself up to succeed to my commitments:
1 – Keep the part of your practice that remains the same short anywhere from 5 – 30 minutes. If you have a busy day you can still fit in 5 minutes! On the days where you have more time, you can make that portion longer or you can do other things that would help bring balance on that particular day.
2 – If you are just starting to incorporate commitment to your practice pick something that feels achievable, something that doesn’t feel too far out of reach. This will set you up for success and the more you succeed and create the habit of showing up, the easier it gets.
3 – If at all possible, try to do your practice at the same time every day. This doesn`t always happen with me, most days I do practice in the morning but some days I do practice in the afternoon. I know that if I wait until bedtime I will not do it! I always make sure to get my practice in before 7pm.
4 – Have compassion for yourself, if you miss a day, so what! Start over and don`t be too concerned about how ”well” you are doing whatever you`ve committed to. If you are getting down on yourself because your mind is all over the place or because your hamstrings are tight it takes away from the beneficial effects of yoga and meditation. Just show up and do your best on any given day without any judgement or need to have a particular outcome. Do it for the journey and not the end result.
5 – Know that every commitment you pick you will learn from. If you end up not finishing your specific amount of days, then that is an experience, if you achieve your commitment but didn`t enjoy it, that is an experience, if you loved every moment of it, then that is an experience. You will learn more about yourself through the process.
”Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” -Bhagavad Gita
Jacynte Leger, Yoga Teacher & Wellness Coach
A powerful tool for our yoga practice and our daily life is intention. Intention is a course of action that one intends to follow, an aim that guides action. As we begin our yoga practice setting an intention can be a great guiding force of how we will practice on that specific day and how we will approach the rest of our day off the mat.
An intention is your true self`s desire to come into balance. When we quiet the mind and tune into our inner knowing our intention will surface. You can set your intention in many ways. An intention is in the present moment – what would help you cultivate more balance in this moment? An intention can be a word, a prayer, an affirmation, a quote, etc.
A simple way to set your intention at the beginning of your yoga practice or day:
- Sit on a chair with both feet on the ground or on your mat in a simple cross leg position with a straight spine, hands resting on your lap.
- Bring your attention to your breath, inhaling and exhaling deeply through the nose, eyes closed or open with a sliver of light coming in.
- Feel your ribs and belly expand with every inhale, the exhale lightly contract belly and ribs to help expel the air out of your lungs. Feel your attention shifting from your mind to your body.
- Bring your hands in front of your chest, press your palms together, thumbs press against the chest. Continue to breathe deeply feeling this expansion of your belly and ribs on inhale and on the exhale bring your attention to your heart center.
- Continue to breathe and to connect with your heart center, then ask yourself what is your intention? What would bring you the most balance at this moment?
As you do this it might be a word that comes up; compassion, relax, self-love. Whatever arises is perfect.
Turning your intention into an affirmation:
We can then use our intention as an affirmation in our yoga practice or day. For example: if the words that came up during your intention setting were compassion, self-love then perhaps the affirmation becomes:
-I love myself fully and have compassion for myself.
During your practice you can take moments to come back to your affirmation and notice what you need to continue doing or change in the way you are practicing to embody this intention. Perhaps you notice you are judging yourself in a certain pose and it`s making you become frustrated. You can then come back to your intention of loving yourself unconditionally and having compassion, when you reiterate this intention then you can let go of the judgement to maintain your equanimity. Continue to repeat the process throughout your practice and your day.
You are creating a new habit of embodying this intention and affirmation, the more you practice it and create this neural groove of compassion and self-love, the easier it will be to make this become your habitual way of approaching yourself in your life on and off the mat.
Jacynte Léger, Yoga Teacher & Wellness Coach
Jacynte is a Kundalini & Hatha yoga teacher specializing in the therapeutic application of yoga.