Sadhana: What 21, 30, and 40 Days of Yoga Will Reveal to You

photo 4By Judy Rukat

[Originally posted on www.DoYouYoga.com]
January marks the season for fresh starts and you may see Yoga Challenges sprouting up all around you: at gyms and yoga studios, in your workplace with additions of yoga (office yoga, chair yoga, meditation breaks), and a sea of yoga selfies flooding your social media.‘Tis the season to get back to the mat! Let’s face it, some days (or weeks, or eeek…MONTHS) yoga ranks low on the to-do list. Have you deemed 2015 the year to go for it and deepen your practice by making it to your mat more consistently over the course of the next few weeks?If so, read on to learn more about what you can expect (as well as making room for the unexpected) during this transformative process.

The Meaning of SADHANA

Put simply, sadhana means dedicated practice. Typically, a modern day sadhana lasts 21, 30, or 40 days and will inevitably shake you free from your usual routine by creating new healthier habits.

The radical shift in your schedule will pull you up and out of your yoga slump as you observe your practice climb to the top of your mountain heap of priorities.

Without a doubt, for the willing practitioner, participating in sadhana will, at a minimum, encourage accountability and ensure that by SIGNING UP, you will actually SHOW UP and have a greater likelihood of sticking with it in the days (and hopefully years) to follow.

21 Days Later: From Resistance to Receptivity

Resistance or the “negative” fear of change differs from the “positive” fear that protects and warns of pending danger. Like all creatures of habit, we get used to moving in one direction and eventually become complacent.

When a desire arises and inspires us to change course, resistance slams on the breaks and stops us in our tracks. Critical self-talk, doubt, and rationalizations attempt to persuade us into continuing on our usual travels even when the path no longer supports our spiritual growth.

Receptivity, on the other hand, allows us to navigate life’s windy roads full of scary twists and uncertain turns. You will certainly confront the stubborn roadblocks of resistance that tend to get in your way during the first 21 days of your sadhana. You may even consider quitting.

If you can stick through it, you will discover that you have developed a calminner “knowing” that allows you to receive life as it comes your way and handle those difficult transitions with grace.

30 Days Later: From Grief to Gratitude

There is necessary grief which is part of the healing process when recovering from a loss, and then, there is the lingering grief wrought with shame and regret for the things we cannot go back in time to change.

This second type of grief can paralyze and blind us from seeing anything beyond our identities, stories, and personal histories. Gratitude, however, grants you permission to bow to the past, honor the lessons learned, and release it once and for all.

Practice is repetition, and showing up for 30 days requires enormous patience to overcome monotony and wake up to the universe of subtleties going on during a meditation, asana, and pranayama practice.

From the outside view the practice “appears” the same, but indeed, your internal gaze or “perspective” has shifted and in that way no two practices are ever the same. Wallowing in past failures creates expectations, and so does reveling in the nostalgia of past successes.

Gratitude reveals the new beginning in each moment and makes the tiny details as well as those lightbulb “AHA” moments of revelation visible. These moments keep a yogi coming back to the mat everyday!

40 Days Later: From Strength to Surrender

We all strive to increase strength and flexibility through yoga, and those noble goals certainly benefit the muscular, cardiovascular, and skeletal systems of the body, not to mention decrease stress hormones while increasing energy levels.

However, as you progress towards the 40-day mark of regular practice, you will learn understand what “muscling” through a pose or asana sequence means, and notice that even during a challenging moment, you will use less and less mental and physical exertion.

The term “samadhi” means meditating through movement, and it occurs when you can let go and trust the body to function and perform at optimal levels of efficiency with the least amount of energy expenditure.

Nevertheless, surrendering does not mean giving up,avoiding challenges, or taking the easy route. In order to truly surrender, you must move with and not against your nature.

Sharon Gannon says it best, “You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.”

The Divine in Me Honors the Divine in EVERYTHING

Ultimately, after you commit to yoga for ANY period of time, you will feel a boost of energy, ease of movement where you used to feel pain, and a pristine mental clarity that will help you seek serenity amidst all life in its terrible gore and tremendous glory.

You will simply know peace in your mind and peace in your heart.

 Whether you start a 21, 30, or 40-day sadhana, the REAL challenge begins by simply getting up and making it to DAY 1, and soon you will discover that EVERYDAY is somehow, for better or for worse, another version of DAY 1. You eventually just do your practice and stop counting the days. Namaste.
Interested in studying with Judy? Her 40-Day Challenge with Whitney Walsh begins this weekend at Namaste. Learn more here.
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Rod Stryker's Tantra Shakti Training

Mind Fish +  Prana Fish

by Kameko Shibata

To be honest, I have few words to describe the Tantra Shakti Master Teacher Training with Rod Stryker. (Mostly because I’m still floating in spinal bliss and mantras keep ringing in my ears).

The best I can come up with is: life changing. There isn’t one thing to pinpoint, there are many. First of all, its an honor to study with a teacher who himself has a teacher and is connected to a lineage. He is also a down to earth, normal guy.  In the west we experience yoga as asana based and often made up by various teachers. There is nothing wrong with “making things up”, and many teacher are excellent at making up styles, brands, etc., but there is something deeply grounded and sacred in teachings and lineage that have thousands of years of history. When you study in India, you feel the connection to nature, history, cosmology and the whole universe. When you study with Rod Stryker that same connection emanates through his teachings.

Rod Stryker is the founder of ParaYoga and his lineage, sri vidya, is tantra based. Like most, I wasn’t sure what tantra even was. In the US people thinks it’s about sex (that’s one tiny branch of one style!). I learned that tantra is about the cultivation of power – the power of shakti, the feminine energy of the world. Shakti is manifested through the cultivation of prana, or prana shakti. Yoga on the other hand,  as seen in the Yoga Sutras, is a mind based practice. It basically says “learn to understand and balance the mind, and then meditative states arise.” Tantra says “learn to understand and move prana shakti, and the mind will follow.”  In this training we cultivated prana through powerful meditations, visualizations, pranayama, asana and mantra (the most important tool in ParaYoga).  The asana isn’t too challenging or too frequent, but deep. For asana Rod draws on the vinyasa krama system of Krishnamacharya, where breath and sound is linked with dynamic movement. I align and draw on that system having also studied at the Krishnamacharya Mandiram.

I left this training with two simply profound take-aways:

  • He used the metaphor of the mind and energy (prana) as two fish always swimming after each other, chasing each other around.  Through tantra ones learn to cultivate the energy (prana) through the yogic practices and the mind will follow. This was revolutionary because most of the time we are so worried about our minds and alignment in asana, we forget to trust that we just need to move the breath, body, energy and the mind will follow!

  • Tantra aims to weave the mundane and the spiritual together into the tapestry of life. It’s so easy for our practice to be a sacred beautiful ritual and the rest of life to feel like a drag. Beginning to weave the elements of practice, the movement of breath, and the belief that all is sacred into our daily lives, we can live a much more fulfilling life even when we’re not on the mat. I’ve been really working on seeing everything as a sacred ritual, and low and behold it makes chores less annoying! Bottom line: who cares if you can put your foot behind your head if you’re mean to your kids afterwards?

I am so grateful to leave this training feeling inspired to teach the way I want too! When I came back from India I knew I needed to teach the practice of chanting om and moving, which most of you have done if you’ve been in my class. I was nervous- because its different. Teaching bandhas, philosophy, mantra, chanting and pranayama in a world of pop music power yoga is scarey. Sometimes I wonder if students really crave just a fun workout…. But I believe what most of us truly crave is authenticity.That’s what I appreciate about Rod Stryker, his authenticity. Both pop power vinyasa and this deeper style can be done authentically, if you have a teacher who is practicing, connected and inspired!

Catch you on the mat.  Hari om!
For more inspiration, free recipes, and events  visit Kameko’s website: www.kamekoarts.com

 

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20

Rod Stryker’s Tantra Shakti Training

Mind Fish +  Prana Fish

by Kameko Shibata

To be honest, I have few words to describe the Tantra Shakti Master Teacher Training with Rod Stryker. (Mostly because I’m still floating in spinal bliss and mantras keep ringing in my ears).

The best I can come up with is: life changing. There isn’t one thing to pinpoint, there are many. First of all, its an honor to study with a teacher who himself has a teacher and is connected to a lineage. He is also a down to earth, normal guy.  In the west we experience yoga as asana based and often made up by various teachers. There is nothing wrong with “making things up”, and many teacher are excellent at making up styles, brands, etc., but there is something deeply grounded and sacred in teachings and lineage that have thousands of years of history. When you study in India, you feel the connection to nature, history, cosmology and the whole universe. When you study with Rod Stryker that same connection emanates through his teachings.

Rod Stryker is the founder of ParaYoga and his lineage, sri vidya, is tantra based. Like most, I wasn’t sure what tantra even was. In the US people thinks it’s about sex (that’s one tiny branch of one style!). I learned that tantra is about the cultivation of power – the power of shakti, the feminine energy of the world. Shakti is manifested through the cultivation of prana, or prana shakti. Yoga on the other hand,  as seen in the Yoga Sutras, is a mind based practice. It basically says “learn to understand and balance the mind, and then meditative states arise.” Tantra says “learn to understand and move prana shakti, and the mind will follow.”  In this training we cultivated prana through powerful meditations, visualizations, pranayama, asana and mantra (the most important tool in ParaYoga).  The asana isn’t too challenging or too frequent, but deep. For asana Rod draws on the vinyasa krama system of Krishnamacharya, where breath and sound is linked with dynamic movement. I align and draw on that system having also studied at the Krishnamacharya Mandiram.

I left this training with two simply profound take-aways:

  • He used the metaphor of the mind and energy (prana) as two fish always swimming after each other, chasing each other around.  Through tantra ones learn to cultivate the energy (prana) through the yogic practices and the mind will follow. This was revolutionary because most of the time we are so worried about our minds and alignment in asana, we forget to trust that we just need to move the breath, body, energy and the mind will follow!

  • Tantra aims to weave the mundane and the spiritual together into the tapestry of life. It’s so easy for our practice to be a sacred beautiful ritual and the rest of life to feel like a drag. Beginning to weave the elements of practice, the movement of breath, and the belief that all is sacred into our daily lives, we can live a much more fulfilling life even when we’re not on the mat. I’ve been really working on seeing everything as a sacred ritual, and low and behold it makes chores less annoying! Bottom line: who cares if you can put your foot behind your head if you’re mean to your kids afterwards?

I am so grateful to leave this training feeling inspired to teach the way I want too! When I came back from India I knew I needed to teach the practice of chanting om and moving, which most of you have done if you’ve been in my class. I was nervous- because its different. Teaching bandhas, philosophy, mantra, chanting and pranayama in a world of pop music power yoga is scarey. Sometimes I wonder if students really crave just a fun workout…. But I believe what most of us truly crave is authenticity.That’s what I appreciate about Rod Stryker, his authenticity. Both pop power vinyasa and this deeper style can be done authentically, if you have a teacher who is practicing, connected and inspired!

Catch you on the mat.  Hari om!
For more inspiration, free recipes, and events  visit Kameko’s website: www.kamekoarts.com

 

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20

Teacher Training – for me?

with Helene

There are a few moments at the end of class when you sit up from the “cake,” as my teacher used to call Savasana, and inevitably some announcements are made about upcoming events. I never listened to these events. I never thought I was the one they were announcing them for.  I just liked coming to yoga to feel my body move and to get clear in my mind, to hear some words of wisdom to inspire me through the week, nothing more or less. One day after the “cake,” there was that moment, the yoga promotion. Only this time, the teacher turned briefly toward me, said “YOU would be perfect for this immersion.” I smiled and wondered at this comment. I deeply respected her and felt she had a lot of knowledge to offer me, but I didn’t want to become a teacher or anything…

Later some little light bulb went off in my mind. Actually I WOULD be perfect for the immersion. I was going through a rough patch, one of those small crises of purpose and career. I was going through a breakup and feeling the need for a deep wellspring to fill me. It was the perfect time for me to devote to learning something new, to devoting some effort to my self. I was rich in time, and poor in dollars, but I never wanted money to hold me back. It made me think, I can use this to know myself better, to love myself more, to spend my time doing something positive.  All good things can proceed from there.

So I signed up, feeling scared but optimistic. In the immersion, there were about 25 of us, and over that first weekend we had to choose someone to be our yoga “buddy.” I looked around the room and felt intimidated. People seemed so confident and comfortable! I felt nervous even to speak when we had our opening circle and were describing why we had committed to this program.

At the end of the weekend, I found my yoga buddy, or my yoga buddy found me: a hummingbird of a girl, tattooed all over with bits of text from Alice Walker books and third eyes and colorful lilies, and sparkling with an inner beauty. We tied red strings on each others wrists to remind ourselves of the commitment we had made to this program. I felt a new part of me open to this community of people. My red string caught my eye often, reminding me of the confidence I felt in the commitment I was making, to myself, to my health, to my clarity and strength of mind.  Over the course of the year as we met, we saw each other through good times and bad. We chanted and sang, learned about our doshas, practiced deeply refined versions of asana, looked at our poses and corrected one another’s alignment, meditated together by candlelight, sat in small groups and discussed big questions of life and spirituality, laughed and cried together about our answers and our honesty. There was really nothing scary here, in this room full of people who were all fabulously fascinating, kind, and devoted. There was only an opening, that I followed, to something warm and delicious, and which still lives and breathes inside me, guiding me into the future.

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