Discipline

Nama – stay – in – bed is something I struggle with many mornings. I lie there and I KNOW that doing yoga will make me feel more alive, calm and clear for the rest of the day but … mmmmm bed. We’ve all been there right? Most mornings I do get out of bed (maybe after a snooze or two) and onto my mat because of discipline.

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Ancient yogi Patanjali wrote in his Yoga Sutra 1.1 ‘atha yoga anushasanam’ – to practice Yoga requires cultivating discipline. Discipline. What a word. It is linked to ideas of unhappiness, forcefulness and uncomfort. We need to shake up our ideas on discipline – we need to cultivate our perspective. It all starts with setting a clear intention. You may have noticed that in our opening meditations I prompt you to ask yourself “Why am I in this class? What do I want to gain from Yoga?” Doing something because we have to is very different to doing something for a reason. Let’s take yoga as an example …

One day it’s cold and wet outside and my inner dialogue says “go on get off the sofa you have to go to yoga” – not appealing AT ALL. Another cold soggy day my mind could say “it looks miserable out there, yoga will give me the energy and clarity to be positive even today” – hell yes let’s go.

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Our reason for doing yoga will probably change over time, even on a day to day basis. Every month I sit down with some tea for a few hours and ask ‘why?’ over and over again. Why do I do yoga? Why am I teaching yoga? What do I want to achieve? Why do I want to achieve that? Etc. Without this sacred time it would be easy to lose track and become ungrounded and lose my sense of discipline.

It is worth noting that discipline doesn’t mean you need to do an intense yoga routine complete with press ups and headstands every day. After all my main message to you is that yoga is about listening to your body and mind. This is one area I have personally struggled with since becoming a yoga teacher. It is a very physical job and some days it doesn’t feel right to push my body in my own practice but I worried that this was me not being disciplined enough. The solution is to have the discipline to practice something every day even if it is only 15 minutes of slow juicy stretches. That isn’t to say don’t challenge yourself! Get sweaty some days – you might have to push through a lot of resistance!

Cultivating discipline will look different for everyone but I highly recommend practicing at the same time every day. I find mornings are best, I wake up early and have a cup of tea while doodling or reading and then I get on my mat. Schedule your day the evening before so when you get up you can’t make an excuse for skipping your practice.

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The other great things about yoga is you don’t need anything to do it – not even a mat. This means you can practice in your room, on holiday and when you are away for work. I definitely have not mastered this skill, I am very much a creature of habit and new spaces freak me out a little. Working on it! It does help to create a serene atmosphere even if it’s just a lit incense stick or a candle burning.

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I also invite you to start your yoga practice like we do in class – with a meditation, ask yourself why you’re practicing yoga and respond from your heart. I also like to ponder for a while with a sense of awe on how incredible the human body is, the mind, the universe to get me feeling inspired.

Successfully cultivating your discipline and integrating yoga within your daily life is a really fulfilling commitment to your happiness and spiritual evolution. It takes time and some days we will inevitably stay in bed. After all we are only human.
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