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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What I didn’t know: A journey from Yogi to Teacher to Author!

by Kimber Simpkins

When I first showed up on my yoga mat many years ago, my heart was eager for the poses and the wisdom (Be patient with yourself, one of my first teachers said). My body couldn’t believe that I had finally found a place where the relentless barrage of criticism quieted. Finally I could see, like a ticker tape flowing just under my field of vision, how hard I was being on myself: “Kimber, you never do this right. Why don’t you stick to a diet? Why don’t you go to the gym more? What’s wrong with you, anyway…”

I had no idea that by noticing this habit of self-judgment, and applying gallon-sized jugs of lovingkindness balm to my body and mind, I would slowly undo the damage I’d done to myself through my teenage eating disorder. No one had ever mentioned that, along with flexibility and calm, as a benefit of yoga practice!

But that’s part of the powerful magic of yoga… it helps us find and heal the parts of our heart we keep hidden away.

 

kimber_booksigning

I didn’t know that once my heart started to open, a loving yoga teacher was there, ready to reach out to others. I also didn’t know I would end up writing a book about my journey, one that I know some of you have read: Full: How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. And the surprises have continued to unfold this year, when after the book’s self-publishing release in Dec 2013, a publisher (New Harbinger, here in Oakland) approached me to buy the book. Thrilled, I said, “Yes, please!” As a result, the book is no longer available on the market, but will be republished in a revised form in March 2015, and available in bookstores everywhere! And since then, Full also won a 2014 Better Books for a Better World Silver Award in Body-Centered Practices from Nautilus Awards. It’s so cool! Some of my favorite authors, like Brene Brown and Jon Kabat-Zinn have won Silver Nautilus awards, too! Who knew this is where that first step onto my mat would take me? Who knows where your yoga practice will take you? As you keep showing up on your mat, let the magic unfold…

View Kimber’s full Namaste Schedule
Follow Kimber on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
Check out her website for events and more book updates at kimberyoga.com

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Tantra as a Personal Transformation

By Kate Aughenbaugh

Before I began my Tantra Shakti teacher training with Rod Stryker, I was working with the Wild Unknown tarot regularly and I consistently pulled the Tower, which represents unexpected and uncontrollable upheaval. It is illustrated on the card as a lighting bolt splintering a tree. I had a turbulent and uneasy relationship with this card until a few days ago when I changed my perspective with the help of tantric practice. Today, wondering how best to explain the practice and what Tantra is to me, I pulled a card that I had never pulled before, Strength; a refreshing change from my well-worn Tower. Strength, as you can see from the title page of this document, is depicted with a lion, rose in mouth, infinity symbol in its third eye and rays of light beaming down overhead. It was perfect because it represents the ability to unleash Shakti (strength) to overcome limitations.

I pulled my old pal the Tower during the Tantra Shakti training and for the first time I didn’t want to fling the card across the room or burn it so that I couldn’t pull it from the deck again. I smiled. I recognized that all of the structures that I had built and dismantled along with the fears and paradoxes that I had come in sharp contact with, had a beauty of their own and had pushed me in the direction that would allow me to recognize my Shakti strength to weather the storm. I began to intuitively make tantric choices that were safe, sustainable, and elevating to accept and expand beyond my tower and transform my life.

Tantra translates to ‘stretch beyond limits’ and also to ‘weaving’. It acknowledges that we have conditions and limitations and it provides a way of allowing Shakti, that resides within us, to expand beyond these limitations. Tantra weaves the technology of many time-tested practices. However, it doesn’t stop there. It’s a living tradition and if something is safe, sustainable, and elevates you, it can be considered tantric.

Much like the infinity symbol depicted in the lion’s third eye, Tantra embraces both dual and non-dual reality. There are clearly two separate circles, part of one symbol; there is no separation between the divine and material. I have also applied this view to the imagery of light and dark; the two can’t exist without the other and are one in the same. Rod said several times during the training that when he meets with his teachers they are rarely interested in his meditation practice or transcendent experiences. Instead, they want to know about his life because life is the place where one has the opportunity to experience divinity.

Tantra methodology and philosophy is how I am able to expand my courage to begin to investigate, honor, and accept my fears and the mind boggling puzzles that they present so that I can soothe and balance them in order to not be controlled by them. Much of our focus during the training was using technique to awaken and expand light energy. As I reflected on practice throughout the course, my self-confidence, alertness, and perception of the dualistic world were transforming as my inner practice was brightening. My perception towards the Tower was changing. You know Tantra is thriving when you find more joy, fearlessness in your life, and that the amount of time between creating an intention and the intention manifesting is shortening. The Tower will always be a part of my deck, along with all of the other archetypes and scenarios available in this divine life.

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