Monday, October 11, 2010

Establishing a Daily Practice

I have had a regular daily yoga practice for about four years. Some time ago, I wrote about my experience with establishing this practice on The Virtual Abbey blog, a team blog about modern monasticism that I contribute to from time to time. Establishing this daily practice changed my life in ways I could never have predicted. One of the most unpredictable of the outcomes of my daily practice has been this new venture in training and study to become a yoga teacher.

Recently, I decided to make some changes in my daily practice, inspired by Judith Lasater's excellent book, "30 Essential Yoga Poses for Beginning Students and their Teachers." In the back of this particular book, Lasater provides several suggested pose sequences. There are sequences for back pain, fatigue, strength, energy, balance, and so forth. There is even one special (short!) sequence called the "Busy Day Practice."

Last week, I decided to work my way through the "Day-of-the-Week Practice," a set of sequences, one for each of the seven days of the week, and I liked the experience so much, I'm going through the "sequence of sequences" again this week.

My biggest challenge in implementing this sequence of poses has been what might be considered the easiest pose: savasana, or basic relaxation pose, which is required for at least five minutes every day. Until this week, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I did savasana at home during my own practice. After one week, I've more than doubled that number and I'm here to say that this pose is the single best addition to my practice in a very, very long time.

My yoga teachers have been telling me for years that savasana is the most important pose, and I believed them, looking forward to it at the end of each class. But, I could never allow myself to take the time to do this pose at home. Lying on my back on the floor when I needed to get to work or to one of a multitude of chores or any number of other things that awaited me in my busy day always seemed like the last thing I should choose.

But I was wrong, and my teachers were (as usual) right: without savasana I have not allowed the poses I've practiced to sink in and become integrated. I have lost the better part of my daily practice because I have not (until now!) taken those crucial five minutes to let my body and heart wrap itself around the experience without my mind getting in the way.

So, I have learned a valuable lesson this week. Something tells me this is just the first of many lessons that await me on this remarkable journey.



  1. Savasana? I LIVE for every opportunity to do that pose. No surprise, I've always been a big fan of yoga nidra, too. Namastezzzzzzz.

  2. Never taken yoga, but sign me up! Sounds wonderful!

  3. Can I teleport you to Bloomington so we can do yoga together??? Sounds wonderful!

  4. Holly, if you can figure out how to teleport me to Indiana, I'd love to practice together. And with you, too, Brenda! But we'll have to be quiet...Meredith is taking (another) snooze. lol


  5. So true. I've recently learned this myself, too!