I have been practicing yoga for about 20 years, some years with more consistency than others. And I have been a yoga teacher for over ten years, again, some years teaching more than others. The way I practice at 48 is very different from how I practiced at 28. At 28, my yoga practice was rooted in a push to be more – be better, learn how to do that next difficult pose, get twistier, be more spiritual and grounded, etc. So this very Western focus on attaining was interweaved throughout my practice, though I would have denied it at the time. I did not realize then that the push to be more and to be better was just the flip side of an ‘I’m not enough just as I am’ belief system.
This is the paradox of yoga, and spiritual practice in general: When we push to become more – more grounded, more enlightened, a better yogini – we lose the essential something that opens us up to our Bigger Self and add a kind of tightness and drivenness which is contrary to the yielding and surrender necessary in spiritual practice. One of my favorite approaches to yoga is Anusara. In Anusara yoga, the first of the five universal principles of alignment is to open to grace, which is the yield and the surrender that is required to open to the Something Bigger. This is the primary purpose of all yoga practice, to open our awareness to our connection to the Something Bigger which both resides within us and is us, of which we are and are a part of.
So for those of us who practice yoga, be it on or off the mat, my metta (loving-kindness blessing/hope) is:
May we open to grace. May we relinquish the mistaken belief that we are not enough as we are right in this moment. May we recognize the divinity in our own being and within all living beings.
Sabrina Santa Clara / Authentic Alchemy x3