Tag Archive for: sadhana

Another mini experiment that is all part of this broader experiment is changing my routine. For years, literally years, I have been truly wanting to change my morning routine, to not have my phone be the first thing I look at in the morning, to not lose 3 hours of the start of my day to Facebook and Instagram. I wanted to get up and practice yoga, start a meditation practice, read a book, do something that was going to enrich my life in my day to day. As part of my Ayurvedic experiment, I have also taken up tongue scraping, oil pulling, neti potting, and meditation on a daily basis. I realize that I am always so eager to experiment on my body in ways that I can control: food, allergy, hygiene, etc. These are all physical experiments that affect my perception of myself. What I realized is that I have been resisting making internal changes and putting forth the effort of doing things that seem hard or boring, which gave rise to my sadhana practice.
I began my sadhana practice on March 21st and have only lost one day to forgetfulness. Hearing that “no effort goes to waste” in our class presentation on meditation inspired me to always just try and to keep trying. I have been practicing sadhana every morning for 10 minutes as the last piece of my Ayurvedic morning routine. This morning I incorporated nadishodhana (my favorite of the 4 purifications) and increased my time to 15 minutes. I definitely felt the extra 5 minutes, but have seen positive changes from my daily practice.

This next journey happened on its own accord. Since I’ve been blabbing my gums about yoga this, yoga that, virtually everywhere I go. I have received a gift. The gift is that my girlfriend has generously offered to be my student. The week of October 13 was the start of a twice a week practice. The sadhana I was drawn to teach was that of what I have been practicing and learning.

Our sadhana practice starts with chanting the Gayratri mantra. I use the version I found on youtube as a guide. We then flow into pranayama breathing of the Four Purifications, guided meditation and finally asana. Initially I was a little nervous jumping in so fast with even taking on a student let alone establishing a rather elaborate practice. However my heart and soul believe that the mere practice of asana is not the whole body and mind practice that I believe empowers and heals.

My student graciously accepted and ran with the sadhana I had put in place. Each time we met I would adjust the length of the Nadishodhana, Kapala Bhati, Agnisara Dhauti and Ashvini Mudra. I knew that she would go through the learning curve as I did of understanding the technique and feeling of the residual effects.

I currently use my living room for our sadhana. I made the space airy and light by moving furniture out of the way. Lights are soft. We have arranged the mats in several ways, side-by-side or me in front. I believe that I do best when I’m in front as it allows me seeing her and help adjust accordingly.

The guided meditation includes visualization of light starting at the head and passing through the body. I also used the so hum. I asked that she breath in so and exhale hum. The beauty of being a student still has allowed me to add new practices each time we meet. The most recent piece added during our meditation is the counting of our inhale and exhalation.

The asana practice initially started with me using the poses in Hatha Yoga Illustrated. By using the already proven sequencing I felt I would better concentrate in finding my teacher voice and language. However, what I failed to realize is that practicing while teaching added another layer to contend with. I felt I needed to practice in order to better understand and feel the pose. Whether practicing or just teaching finding the correct words are still challenges.

After realizing the challenges of practicing and teaching I switched to just teaching. This was my true test of patience, knowledge and leadership. By not practicing while teaching I was better able to focus solely on her alignment and whether or not she was hearing my direction. These classes felt longer but more rewarding.

As time progresses I continued to use what I was learning in class. My sequencing thus far focuses on repetition and recently longer holds. I would like to build my own sequencing by writing down and building out classes. This however still makes me a little nervous as I still have a bit to learn here.

As it relates to my teaching yoga in Spanish I have been asked to teach a class for parents and teachers at a local school. This will begin the first week of December. More to learn and implement! I will reach out to some folks I recently met to put together a class in Spanish. I will also do plenty of research online in order to get more understanding of directive language use in Spanish.

My practice is two-fold. The journey of building and maintaining my own daily sadhana and that which I can share with others is far from perfect. I feel that this requires a great deal more of understanding and self-practice before I can truly be the teacher I want. The reality that I will always be a student of yoga is ever so clear and I must say that I embrace it wholeheartedly. The experiments shall continue!

Sometimes we can only delve deeper into the unknown by setting aside the known for a little while. This Axis Yoga Teacher Training student’s desire to deepen their sadhana practice required a relinquishment of their more familiar asana practice. They faced a challenge familiar to many who try to begin a meditation practice; wondering if we are doing it “right” and feeling some discomfort in being alone in our own mind. This student’s courage to experiment with their practice lead to more patience, love and understanding for both self and others.


For my second experiment I aimed to deepen my personal sadhana practice. I have always known that yoga is more than just an asana practice, but fell short on incorporating Pranayama into my own practice. I avoided Pranayama because I was not comfortable meditating alone, and questioned if I was even doing it correctly. When we practiced sadhana during class I always left feeling content, clear minded and at ease, I decided I wanted to cultivate these positive outcomes into my own everyday life.

Prior to this experiment my yoga practice consisted of getting up at 5 a.m. oil pulling, a gentle oil massage, shower and then 30-45 minutes of asana practice followed by 5-10 minutes of mediation. I had to be finished with this whole routine by 6:20 a.m. so I would have time to get ready and off to work. Some days if I were running late or if I felt inspired to add more asana or take longer holds the first thing to go was my pranayam practice. On the days when I did have adequate time to mediate I was unable to get comfortable and found myself thinking about everything I had to do that day. I would tell myself I would sit for at least try for 10-20 minutes, but would be so restless after 5 minutes I stopped trying.

I was aware that needed more time to meditate, but figured at least I was doing everything thing else in my routine, so what was the harm in not meditating. After sharing this issue with a teacher, he suggested I work primarily on my sadhana practice and leave out my asana practice. Therefore, I hypothesized if I devoted my morning routine strictly to sadhana I could deepen this part of my practice and add it together with the asana practice later on. I also hypothesized that a consistent personal sadhana practice would welcome the same peace and mindfulness I achieved during our class sadhanas.

I kept my same 5 a.m. wake up time and performed the same oil pulling, oil massage and showering routine as I had. I felt it was necessary to clean and awake for my practice and the ritual made me feel like I was preparing for something special. I then went to spare bedroom to practice with nothing, but my mat and a few pictures of family and friends on an altar. I started by setting an intention for how I wanted my day to go, often asking for more patience and understanding towards others. I then sang the Gayatri mantra, performed the Four Purifications and then sat quietly and meditated.

I looked forward to getting up every morning and performing my routine, especially singing the Gayatri Mantra. Some days I would sing it three times and other days I did not want to stop and sang it at least ten times one morning. The Mantra made the space my own and the action of singing relieved some of the pressure I had felt in the past about sitting alone with my thoughts. My first week I successfully sat in silence and for a maximum of 20 minutes, and as the weeks progressed I was able sit for 40 minutes, some days going over time. My first week I felt I had more energy, relied less on caffeine, and was overall clear minded and content.

My second week of this experiment, I began to experience very vivid dreams of events that had happened to me in the past. These were event I did not remember or perhaps chose not to remember, but knew they had happened. I, myself was not the main character in the dream, but rather watched the same event I had as experienced happen to another person. I was an outsider looking in on my own life’s history. I did not feel nearly as happy or clear minded my second week as I had my first and debated stopping my pranayama practice because I did not want to be burdened by these dreams every night. I did not realize how much I lived my life day to day, and chose to ignore how past experiences shaped me. It was not a pleasant experience to look at a direct reflection of myself, but realized it was something I had avoided and needed to finally face. My second week could be described as an inward discovery of myself, where my life’s path had led me and where I wanted it to lead me.

By the third week of my experiment, my practice started to come full circle and felt calm, happy as I did the first week. Diving deeper into my subconscious was difficult at times, but in the end I had gained perspective on my life. In my dreams I had experienced events as an outside party, allowing me to suspend judgments about myself and move forward rather than feel stuck by one event in my life. The intention I began during my third week was asking for more patience and understanding of myself therefore allowing for a greater amount of self-love.

This experiment helped me deepen my own personal sadhana practice and I become comfortable with meditating alone. Of course there were days when I struggled to relax or questioned if I was doing it “the right way”, but I just reminded myself of an Iyengar quote I had heard “Breath is the king of mind.” That quote took the strain and pressure off focusing my mind and allowed me to just sit in silence and focus on my breath, and things fell into place from there.

Starting a pranayama practice separately from my asana practice helped me grow and strengthen a piece of my practice that was once weak and deficient.  I gained the peace and clarity I had hoped, while discovering pieces of myself I had left unexplored. This experiment helped me to see my life’s path more clearly and strengthened my emotional immunity. I feel I have more love, patience and understanding for others because I have more love, patience and understanding of myself.

The following account shares the journey one Axis Yoga Teacher Training student takes to find an authentic personal Yoga practice. With the many paths and practices of Yoga, it takes some self-exploration and experimentation to find what feels right to each individual. This student was able to embrace Yoga in a way that fit current beliefs and practices, and left room for Yoga to continue to become a more substantial part of life.

I started doing yoga five years ago with the sole motivation of getting physically fit.  I soon started to know and appreciate the subtle mind-clarifying benefits, and the importance of the breath in the practice, which can be applied to many situations throughout my day.  My practice stagnated for years when I found myself unable to pay for yoga classes and then I ended up traveling for two years consistently.  I continued to practice asana almost daily, but I wasn’t learning anything new or deepening my practice at all.  As soon as I started the Axis Yoga teacher training, I could almost immediately feel the benefits of deepening my practice by using pranayama, meditation, and mantra along with my ever-evolving asana practice.  At the same time I came up against a deep-seeded inner obstacle; a resentment to being told how to practice my spirituality, and an aversion to dogma and ritual (especially mantra for some reason).  Having felt the positive effects of sadhana in Vipassana, and in class, and seeing the use in overcoming aversions, I decided to use the opportunity to do a personal experiment to get to the bottom of this particular aversion.  I decided to try and do at least thirty minutes of sadhana a day and see what kind of effects it had on my mind and well-being.  I figured that if I could really experience the effects of the practices, then I could more easily overcome my aversions and allow them to become a part of my life and improve my well-being.