Removing Obstacles to Practice

What are some common misconceptions about yoga?

I’m not flexible enough to practice yoga.
We don’t have to be flexible to practice yoga. Nor do we have to be able to do advanced poses.

 

The most basic, Level 1 poses, when practiced in good alignment and with a focus on the breath, offer enormous benefits.

 

It’s helpful to remember to let go of self-judgment after you’ve made your best efforts in each pose. Enjoy your breath. Make space for and witness your inner monologue.

 

The physical practice offers us an opportunity to practice “ahimsa,” non-harming, towards ourselves.

 

My mind is too busy to meditate.
We’re wired to generate thoughts. We’re also wired to quiet the mind and go inside.

 

A lot of what we do in meditation class is experiment with ways to work with the mind. We take an easeful approach, witnessing our thoughts, as we focus our attention on the breath, the mantra, the heart center….

 

As we witness and detach from our thoughts, we become more aware of what’s beyond thoughts – awareness. Over time it becomes natural to rest in awareness.

 

When we adopt a regular meditation practice, our meditation energy unfolds in a way that is unique and beneficial to us.

 

I’m not “spiritual.”
Fortunately you don’t have to be “spiritual” to reap the documented benefits of a daily meditation or yoga practice.

 

For many people, words like “spiritual” and “God” have a negative charge. Regardless of the identities we ascribe to ourselves – “spiritual” or “not spiritual” – it’s best to approach meditation and yoga as practices, without the labels.

 

What are common challenges?

I don’t have time to practice.
We only need to practice for a little while every day before we begin to notice shifts. We might notice that our day goes better when we sit to meditate, that we’re less reactive, that we feel content even when life is challenging or that we’re more acutely aware of beauty.

Ganesh is the beloved Hindu deity who is worshipped as the remover of obstacles. When we practice, we remove the obstacles in our awareness – the limiting beliefs or egoic tendencies – that prevent or hinder our expansion.

 

I don’t have time to practice. (continued)
All of the research, articles and blogs on creating a new habit say the same thing: practice every day – even for just a few minutes – so that it becomes a natural, easeful part of your daily routine.

 

As Doctor Timothy McCall says, “every time we do something, we increase the likelihood that we’ll do it again.”

 

When we begin to experience the benefits of practice – a deeper sense of well-being, more peace and contentment – we’re then motivated to practice more.

 

I’m too tired to practice.
It’s a good strategy to do gentle practices on the days you’re tired. For the physical practice, you can do a very gentle, restorative practice. For meditation, you can lay in savasana (corpse pose) and plug into a guided deep relaxation, called “yoga nidra” (yogic sleep).

 

These more gentle practices are likely what you need when you’re tired and they enable you to reinforce your new habit of practicing daily in ways that are effortless.

 

I’m traveling early in the morning which is when I usually meditate.
When you have to get up extra early to travel, it works to bring ear plugs and do your daily mediation after you’re settled in to your seat, as your plane is taking off or when your train is pulling out of the station. You might also opt for a guided audio meditation on travel days.