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Clearing the Path

How is your yoga practice going? This question is on the lips of many modern yogis all over the world. It is a question that interests and involves us. It leads us into deep conversations. Because practicing yoga in the 21st century holds shared experiences for many of us.

Practicing yoga in 2022 has some common ground. It probably means you attend a regular buffet-style yoga school once or twice a week. It also means you might make use of a selection of yoga props to make the process of your practice more comfortable – perhaps a sticky mat, comfortable active wear, possibly various other strange and wonderful bits and pieces that you pull out now and then. As the popularity of yoga has grown exponentially over the last decade, our desire for the latest must-have’s have grown with it. Somehow, social media and its marketing gurus have led us to believe that delving deeper into the self requires us to purchase technology that teaches us ‘how-to’, equipment for the ‘need-to’, fashionable lycra as our ‘go-to’. The selling point of course is that without these things, we may not reach our full potential. Curiously however, the sacred texts tell us that yoga is all about lightening the load, discarding the baggage, clearing the path…

A variety of tools during the process of learning yoga can, of course, support our practice in a wonderful way. I have certainly used my fair share of blankets, chairs, bolsters, bricks - you name it. I’ve used a full-blown selection of furniture over the years. These are props. Props prop us up and give us another aspect of sensation, another layer of support when the body aches or when the mind is troubled with how little there is to grasp onto. We crave moments of relief. Believe it or not, eventually, even our own teachers become a prop, a part of a tool box, the support we need when boredom or inertia steps in. This is a big point of difference to observe. When does support end and dependency begin? Can we tell the difference?

One thing I know for sure is that within each one of us lives the one and only prop we’ll ever require for every yoga practice we take part in. We were born with this prop, and it’s the only prop that will take us to the edge of our lives. It’s very light, extremely portable and surprisingly free.

So much scientific research is being done on breath work these days. It is reassuring to see and know that the yogis of the past had this incredible knowledge, and their insights have been recognised and passed down over thousands of years. Science is reaffirming and supporting it now. Will our latest yoga apps stand the same test of time as these ancient findings have done?

As you begin your yoga practice today and every day – breathe. Begin by listening to the inner sound of your breath. This is the most intimate relationship we can have with ourselves. Trust that your breath will sustain you. You will notice that you will start to sense an integration happening. Then and only then, begin your asana practice, one that supports this internal rhythm. You can shift this rhythm at any time by breathing faster, slower or deeper. It truly is the single prop that will carry you to the end of a lifetime of yoga. Stay focused. The ability to sustain and hold the focus of a practice is through listening and inquiry, followed again by re-inquiry. You will find that this focus will keep you motivated and connected to a daily practice, and it will help churn the body and breath into the depths of the unknown and uncertain. From there arises the stillness, the nectar. From here you can draw on honesty, commitment and mental concentration. All of these things will provide you with deeper meaning so that you can authentically bow down to the most profound within you.

I hope that as you use your props today, you remember your super prop.

It awaits your attention with grace and resolve.


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