The house is calm
The city is slowly waking up
The morning sun is gently spreading its rays.
I light a candle, go to my mat, sit on my cushion, close my eyes and start my morning practice
I orientate my awareness inside, tune in to my breath, observing a moment of gratitude for this practice
Allowing me to be present and filled with joy
After a few slow spine movements and some breathing exercise, slowly my body starts to stretch and my breath deepens
I then sit in stillness, start chanting and afterwards meditate
This has become my morning practice, a daily ritual that grounds me and enables me to choose the energy that will lead me through my day. It feels so natural to me now. But it hasn’t always been the case.
Let’s go back in time to the Spring of 2015…
I was sitting in a very shaky airplane from Hong Kong on the way to Rishikesh, located on the foothills of the Himalayas, where the River Ganges starts. I was going to spend a month of immersion in the teachings of yoga in this scared land of the Rishis.
I would soon meet my teacher Kia Miller and follow her training in order to become a yoga teacher. I had never met her before the trip but followed my heart – though this bumpy flight did make me wonder if it was a good omen. Nevertheless, I knew that I had made the right decision and I was in the right place.
In the following morning, I found myself sitting in a circle with Kia and 25 other yogis, sharing what led us to this yoga teacher training. When my turn came, I told them that I just wanted to have my own practice and that I had no interest in teaching (eh eh, little did I know then that the universe had other plans for me!). After about ten years of practicing Hatha and Iyengar yoga, I felt ready to dive deeper in the practice, focus on breathing and meditation. Above all, I would like to be able to practice on my own without relying on a teacher, being able to practice in silence, just following the rhythm of my breath and the needs of my body.
As it turned out, coming to India was one of the most transformative experiences in my life. Being in the place where yoga has been practiced for thousands of years gives you a different perspective.
Every day we started with a sadhana (spiritual practice) at 6am. This involved some movements (asanas), breaths (pranayama) and meditation. It was all very new to me, but from this day on, I was hooked. This is where it all started. The quiet time in the morning before the whirlwind of life kicks in.
I remember meditating in the yoga shala: wrapped in my scarf, eyes closed, senses inward, yet aware of the world around us waking up – noises from the animals like the monkeys running on the roof (maybe this is where the concept of monkey mind comes from), the smell of the fire being started from the nearby houses, the sound of the river…An hour later, we gathered to have breakfast and spent the rest of the day studying, practicing and becoming familiar with the various aspects of Yoga.
This was a transformative month of intense learning on a physical, spiritual and emotional level – mostly about myself. And a new journey began.
Practicing yoga daily during the training has changed me in many ways. Although I had practiced yoga for more than ten years then, I had never had a daily practice like sadhana (spiritual practice).
During this month of immersion, we had the daily practice together in the wee hours in Rishikesh. I discovered a new relationship with my body, my mind and even my soul. I started to let go of things that didn’t serve me and thoughts that were negative and harming me. My whole vibration started to change. I started hearing from people how I looked differently. At the same time, I definitely felt that I was more centred and happy – and overall I knew I was changing for the better. What an amazing journey toward a new way of being!
After I came back home after this India trip, I wanted to continue with this daily practice. So I started practicing a short and simple sadhana: 10 minutes of some movements to warm up my spine and some breathing exercises. I find it easier to practice in the morning as there are less distractions – as the whirlwind of the day hasn’t started.
As I look back to the month of immersion, it was a beautiful privilege to start and create a new habit of having a daily sadhana with a group of yogis – it is the support of a sangha that really helped kick start my daily practice.
Naturally, when I am alone, it would take more effort to keep up – and the key is to do a little bit every day. Kia told me to choose a practice that would be realistic and easy to integrate in my daily life. With that in mind, I think that is why I can stick with it to this day. Just keep it simple.|
Over the time, I have started to add more elements and increase the length of my sadhana. The content changes regularly, too. To make it less dull (like counting the days for the sake of it), I usually do a special practice for a period of 40 or 90 days (e.g. a kundalini kriya or a special meditation). By keeping the content consistent for a period of time – though it may appear to be the same – shifts start to take place for me and I find myself in a different place each day.
Today is a special day for me – as I have been doing my sadhana for 700 consecutive days. A daily practice that has taught me so much about myself, life and universe. I am thankful for the gift of yoga that brings me from darkness to light.
In kundalini tradition, they say that once you pass one thousand days of sadhana, the whole world will change – what an exciting journey I have ahead!
This article was just published in NAMASKAR magazine April 2017
click here to see the full magazine