The Yoga of a Little
You know, in these times when everything is a flux, when our routines and ways of life are thrown upside down, when perhaps there is fear and anxiety regarding our health, or the health and safety of our loved ones, our incomes, then there is something priceless that Yoga has to offer each one of us. And this does not really get talked about so much. And we may not even realise we are missing it: because perhaps we have never really experienced it much at all, and society definitely does not promote it. As it is the most precious gift that I believe my practice has given and continues to gives to me and as it is what I came to realise in study of the classical Yoga texts is the promise of regular Yoga practice, it is the driving inspiration behind all I share with you each time we meet for practice.
It’s not increased flexibility, it’s not a moment of “me time” out of a busy schedule, it’s not even a fleeting experience of peace in an ordinarily turbulent mind.Though all of these are of course of value. It is steadiness. Steadiness in the body, in it’s nervous system and various rhythms (cardiac, endocrine for example). Steadiness in the mind. And steadiness in the heart, the energetic heart from where our pranic currents flow, affecting our whole being.
The nature of this temporal world we live in is change and impermanence. And so we are almost set up to live in a place of un-steadiness as the things we come to count on change and/or leave us. Of course, we are human and sometimes greatly painful events will arise which will throw us of course. As a Yoga practitioner however we then get up one day, dust ourselves off and move on deepening our connection to practice and so that level of steadiness within.
And in the steadiness that a regular Yoga practice brings us to, when things change, when the rug might otherwise be pulled from under our feet, when we say goodnight to one world and wake up in another, we remain perhaps more steadfast than we might have otherwise, and more trusting. More trusting as within that steadiness that is the fruit of our committed Yoga practice, we eventually come to discover the one place within that is unchanging, and therefore the one thing that we can always count on, the only thing that we can guarantee will be with us until our very last breath. For the Yogis this is the place of divinity within us; a place of divinity because it is a place of connection to that essential conscious intelligent heart of our being. And that same consciousness at the heart of our own being, that intelligence that gives rise to our nature and form, is the same consciousness and intelligence that permeates the whole of existence, that gives rise to all forms. Forms come and go, but the dedicated Yogi experiences something beyond form and unbound by time and space and comes to know that to something to be the timeless heart of existence.It is to be found in the cave of our own heart, the hridaya in Sanskrit, and all the steadiness that our practice gives us is exactly for this purpose: to bring us back to this heart of being and to know ourselves as this, this unchanging witnessing consciousness that has present through every stage and experience of our life. When we know and can rest in the unchanging, it’s benefit is infinite. At the very least it brings increased health, joy, resilience, and love – of ourselves and of our fellow beings with whom come to see we are one.
And it doesn’t take hours and hours of practice. It takes regularity. Instead of doing a long class once a week…or once in a blue moon (ha ha!), try the “Yoga of a Little”, a little yoga asana, a little pranayama, a little meditation daily, a little quiet contemplation/reflection, alongside a balanced lifestyle attuned to nature’s rhythms, good company and a natural healthy diet. Even if it’s just a few minutes daily, the power of practice is in the regularity.
So why not, if you are one of the lucky ones with more, rather than less, time on your hands as a result of lockdown, make positive use of this time. Set up a Yoga practice schedule that works for you, please ask me to send you the recordings. Do even 15, 20 minutes of the practices daily, or every other day. And notice what happens….
As I have been sitting with the morning practice group each day for Hatha yoga and meditation, I am noticing this regularity brings a steadiness to my breath as soon I sit on my mat. It’s a welcome indication of a deeper steadiness arising. Body, breath and mind are becoming accustomed to this new and regular morning rhythm. I checked with the others joining me and some are finding the same even though they have not been practicing for long. It doesn’t have to be a long, long journey to experience the blessings of committed practice. Our natural state of being according to the teachings of Vedanta (one of the Schools of Philosophy in India), or Yoga and of Ayurveda is joy, bliss, health. \And the Yoga practices are entirely designed to take us back to that. I am certain that it is the journey to actually get on the mat that is the most arduous.
In the beginning we have to make some effort to bring ourselves to the mat. In the end, your mat, your practice will call you. And maybe we fall out of this rhythm. Yoga is like that. And then we simply make effort again, come back to regularity of practice…and inevitably wonder why we every lost that.
I invite you with all my heart to give it a go. Find out for yourself what happens with a dedicated practice: even just 15 minutes daily. We can all do that. And rather than looking ahead to an endless timeline of dedicated practice, to start with just give yourself a limited time frame to try it out: one week, or three weeks. I’ve heard that if we do a practice daily for 21 days it will really anchor something in our being.
Of course I’m biased…but more than ever there is no time like “now”. Our lives have changed and we don’t know what lies ahead. We need that inner resilience. Plus you have online available to you 5 days a week regular guided practice which I completely dedicate to building and nurturing connection to that steadiness within.Even if you long for nothing more than the peace of mind and freedom from anxiety and fear that is your birthright – that’s great too…..then you have nothing to lose. This “staying home” daily Yoga and meditation could be your simple, do-able answer.
I’m wishing you all well and sending a lot of love to you.
Below are some reviews from the practitioners who have been joining regularly for morning and/or evening practice. I hope they will give you a little encouragement to give a little more to yourself.
And below those I’m sharing with you a letter written by the mystic Osho to a devotee. It speaks to this most essential and precious gift that Yoga can bring to our lives. I’ve taken it from the book “A Cup of Tea, one of my favourites.
Love and best wishes again to each and every one of you.
Livestream Class Reviews:
I feel compelled to comment on my state of mind and body after daily classes with Shama throughout this lockdown period. Yes, I am a regular yoga practitioner and rely on my yoga practice to help keep me balanced, but this period of social isolation and all the emotions it has created within us all has been exceptional. Shama’s dedicated care in keeping us all grounded and well has shone through once again. The daily pranayama (breath work), asanas and meditation have literally changed my days from being full of anxiety, instability and sometimes fear, to days of strength and positivity and I just felt the need to show my appreciation. You literally change lives Shama and given the regular numbers of us showing up I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in benefiting. With so much appreciation and love xxxxx
MM Leamington Spa
Yoga classes with Shama have been a lovely part of my week for several years, but through lockdown they have become an absolute blessing. Not only are her classes a great focal point to the day, they provide a particularly welcome way to stay energised, strong and supple as well as helping to create a feeling of inner balance. Classes also provide welcome contact with a friendly group of like minded yoga enthusiasts.’GK, nr Leamington Spa
Having our regular practice with you has given structure to my days and provided a huge amount of support in these lonely times. I have always found it difficult to practice on my own at home and having you on screen and my fellow yoginis in the background is really motivating, enjoyable and comforting. My practice has also developed as I have followed more closely your teaching and especially around self care and nourishment and making the most of this precious time that we have together. I am hugely grateful to you for your teaching and reassurance and for keeping us all going when the world around us is going through such painful times. DO, Stratford Upon Avon
I’m dreading lockdown ending in many many ways as I am able to join a class every day whilst working from home. Even if I have to leave early to join a meeting/ call I have started the day in a wonderful way. It’s been fabulous having the time to focus on self care every morning, I’m loving it. Much better than just doing 5 minutes every morning. Thanks for all the classes. You are such a fabulous dedicated teacher.we are extremely lucky. RW Stratford Upon Avon
LETTER FROM THE BOOK A CUP OF TEA, WRITTEN BY THE MYSTIC OSHO:
Why does man suffer?
Man suffers because of his craving, craving to possess that which cannot be possessed,
and craving to keep things forever with himself
which are essentially impermanent.
And chief among these things is his own ego,
his own persona.
But all things are impermanent.
Except for change itself
Really nothing is
because everything is only a process,
so as soon as one tries to possess anything it slips away.
The possessor himself is slipping away constantly!
Then there is frustration
and then there is suffering.
Know this well,
realise this well and there will be no suffering
because then you have unearthed the root.
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