Do You Practice Yoga Or Do You Just Do Yoga?
Practice Makes Beautiful
I had a revelation on my yoga mat. A wave came over me. My revelation was that I had spent my time on my mat "doing" yoga. I went to class and I did yoga. Today, however, I step onto my yoga mat and practice. I step on with the intention to let my practice reveal, bring mindfulness, evolution and connection.
So what is the difference between doing and practicing? I had no idea until I began to move mindfully on my mat. I noticed I began stepping onto my mat as if it was my own boat on a different body of water every class. I started to notice my breath and my body moving, and began to move mindfully, with more intention. I was thinking less of "doing" the poses, and more with being the poses. Before I really knew it, I was practicing yoga. Put another way, practicing versus doing is the difference between the fabric all woven together to create a beautiful patchwork quilt, and that of just a blanket.
I had dinner recently with a monk and he shared this thought with me; "Christine, where your awareness goes, energy flows." It took me right to my mat. On my mat when I practice, it brings concentration, awareness and consciousness, leading energy to flow where it needs to go. My mat and my meditation cushion are two sacred places where I now let the breath drive, energy flow, and the practice begin.
Practicing will activate connection for you. Practicing means you will be observing and experiencing more, and auto-piloting less. It means you will be working towards seeking something much larger than yourself, versus just doing poses, feeling the release and relaxation.
The most practical next step is then harnessing this energy and new information your practice is giving you and letting it inform you on and off the mat. Your body is a form of intelligence for you giving you signals and information. It's downloading and uploading for you all day long, breath by breath, and all you have to do is observe.
An observation I can share is learning through the experience of my body, versus giving my body something to begin and finish in a class. Opening awareness to experiencing a yoga practice - all of the uh-oh's and aha's along the journey - have brought me to a better level of understanding and mindfulness. You need to be able to hear the music before you dance with it. And then the best part: to observe and treasure that feeling of what's there when you are dancing.
The old adage, "Practice makes perfect" doesn't serve us anymore. Practice makes beautiful. A practice is eternal: it's with you for life. I had no idea what I was missing when I was just going to yoga class. Think about your life, and what you can let go of "doing" and begin to practice: cooking; yoga; art; running; parenting.
With metta: may you be peaceful, clear and free.
Christine Russell is a yogini and innerpreneur, co-founder of 889 Yoga + Wellness Spa in Toronto with her sister Emily Ridout. Her life mission which she gets to live out through her business is to inspire happy, healthy, peaceful lives. You can find them at 889yoga.com @889yoga @889christine @889emily