“Sadhana is a Sanskrit word whose root, sadh, means to reclaim that which is divine within us, our power to heal, serve, rejoice, and uplift the spirit. Sadhana practices encompass all our daily activities, from the simple to the sublime – from cooking a meal to exploring your inner self through meditation. The goal of sadhana is to enable you to recover your natural rhythms and realign your inner life and daily habits with the cycles of the universe. When you begin to live and move with the rhythms of nature, your mind becomes more lucid and more peaceful and your health improves. Your entire life becomes easier.” – Maya Tiwari
I’ve always loved this passage from Maya Tiwari’s book The Path of Practice. It reveals to us that sadhana – or spiritual practice — is not just something we do on our mat, it encompasses all of our daily activities. Yes, we do show up on our mats as a way to practice for the other aspects of our lives, but it’s the true integration of what we discover about ourselves on our mats or meditation cushions that trains us to “realign our inner life and daily habits.”
So where do we begin? Here are some ideas for those who would like to develop a personal, daily practice.
- Start small– Can you commit to 15 minutes per day? Your personal practice time does not need to be lengthy. Don’t underestimate the shifts that can take place by taking even just 5, 10 or 15 minutes per day to pray, breathe, meditate, journal, or practice a few yoga asanas. When you have more time, you can practice longer. Starting small can be the spark for getting your practice started. And if you need to skip a day, don’t worry. Pick it back up again as soon as you can.
- Be real, and be consistent– What type of practice speaks to who you are authentically? If mantras and malas don’t reflect who you are, then know they are not necessary. Pick something, and most importantly show up for it on a regular (ideally daily) basis.
- Have a special place and time– Think about where and when you will mostly likely show up for your practice. Will your place be quiet enough? Is it uplifting? You might consider placing an altar or special objects in your space. It does not have to be a dedicated room or much space at all, but it should signal that it’s personal, special, and sacred. Also consider setting time at the beginning of the day so that you can invite your practice to set the compass for the day ahead of you, and so that the day doesn’t get away from you with your practice time getting put off for another, more ideal time.
- Empower yourself with support– Having a few supports can make your practice more attainable and more sustainable. For example, are you comfortable sitting on the floor or do you need a different type of seat? Would a couple of apps that guide you into meditation or movement. Or perhaps the motivation and accountability of a group or “buddy” will be just the thing to keep you going. All of these things are readily available, many freely and virtually available.
- Reflect and adjust– As you age and evolve on the path, your practice will likely do the same. As you get exposed to more teachers and teachings you may be drawn to different styles. Notice how you feel after you practice and let that reflection direct what needs to stay the same or change over time.
If you’ve ever listened to our podcast, you’ve heard me ask each of our guests – what does your daily sadhana look like? I love the variety of answers we receive. Occasionally students ask me what my daily practice looks like. Here’s a few things I’ll share about it.
Each day I devote 30 minutes in the morning to practice. I set my kids up with something to do during that time so that I’m not interrupted. I also wear noise canceling headphones since I live in a small cabin, everyone in the household knows this is my time. Most days I roll out a yoga mat, as my practice typically includes breath work, yoga asana and meditation. Some days I just sit. I have an altar, with a few pretty objects on it (candles, crystals, cards with affirmations). I like to keep it simple. I’m also not afraid to tune into Insight Timer or YogaGlo if I want to be guided. I keep a journal and a few books under my altar. After I finish my practice, I often write down a few things that come to me. Then, I read a passage from a book. Right now I’m reading Meditations on the Mat by Katrina Kenison and Rolf Gates which I find inspiring and easy to digest.
Even though this is my dedicated “practice time” there are other elements that are important pillars of stability to my routine each day, and I consider them part of my sadhana as well. These pillars include waking at the same time each day and going to bed at the same time each night, spending time in nature (typically on a walk), laughing with my kids, taking in the color and smell of my food, and offering at least one compliment to someone and one thing for which to be grateful.
These things have evolved for me through the years and I expect them to continue to evolve as I age, as my kids grow. I’ve come to realize that showing up for my practice is showing up for myself. And I plan to continue doing that for the rest of my life.
Yours in Yoga,
Michele Lawrence, Director
Inner Peace Yoga Therapy