A student came up to me recently and said: “After today’s class, I thought, Yes! This is why I come to yoga.” He was in his yogic happy place and attributed this to the class. Acknowledging that this is not the case with every class, we mused for a minute or two about what might have been so special that day. Was it something about his mindset? Was it the energy of the people in the room? Was it an approach I took? I don’t think we will ever know for sure. The real take away is that every one of us has a yogic happy place an an internal GPS route leading to it.
The route is surprisingly direct, but there are lots of distractions along the way. Let’s call these distractions our sh#&. The anger about traffic, the thoughts of To-Do list items gone undone, feel free to insert your own list here. I can make it to my happy place only when I have left my sh#& at the studio door. My practice begins when I step across the threshold of the studio. My mat is a sacred space, a place of solace Allowing things like worry and anger onto my mat guarantees a blemished practice. Better to leave these distractions at the door. Yet, we all know it is not easy to separate ourselves from our sh#&, so I’ll offer one way to try.
First, get to class 5 minutes early. When you step into the studio or the practice room, visualize leaving your sh#& at the door. Like a befriended stray dog, some of it will follow you. Mindfully try leaving it again. Whatever still follows you might be important enough that you need to sit with it on your mat. Acknowledge this without getting sidetracked by a self-guided psychoanalysis session.
Next, sit comfortably on your mat with eyes closed or take a soft gaze. Place hands in gyan mudra (pads of index fingers and thumbs lightly touching, other 3 fingers extended). Gyan mudra is said to ensure mental peace, concentration and dissipate tension. Set an intention to have a great practice
Finally, inhale a sense of fullness and exhale anything you are holding onto that doesn’t enhance your practice. For some reason I keep seeing the instructions on my shampoo bottle. Lather, rinse, repeat. Applying this to your practice, lather yourself with peaceful focus on the inhale breath. Rinse out negative feelings on the exhale. Repeat as needed – each time moving toward your happy place.
So, what happens when you recross the threshold on your way out? I’ll bet that most, if not all, of what you left behind is gone.