Along the path of yoga there comes a time for many of us when it seems like life’s patterning just doesn’t fit our practice. There are many excuses we can make about why we can’t sit in meditation, why we can’t fit in an hour of asana, how there just isn’t enough time in the day, especially through The Holidays and New Year. With so many distractions happening in daily life and so many desires we wish to fulfill, it is not a surprise that the yoga practice can suffer.
Fortunately, this not a modern dilemma. The ancient sages knew that the Yoga Road was rocky and mapped it out for us. Patanjali’s yoga sutras outlines nine distinct distractions that become obstacles as one journeys further down the path of yoga:
”1.30 Nine kinds of distractions come that are obstacles naturally encountered on the path, and are physical illness, tendency of the mind to not work efficiently, doubt or indecision, lack of attention to pursuing the means of samadhi, laziness in mind and body, failure to regulate the desire for worldly objects, incorrect assumptions or thinking, failing to attain stages of the practice, and instability in maintaining a level of practice once attained. (Swami J)
(vyadhi styana samshaya pramada alasya avirati bhranti-darshana alabdha-bhumikatva anavasthitatva chitta vikshepa te antarayah)”
Fortunately there is a solution that has been prescribed by Patanjali to overcome these obstacles and it, in essence, is quite simple:
“1.32 To prevent or deal with these nine obstacles and their four consequences, the recommendation is to make the mind one-pointed, training it how to focus on a single principle or object. (Swami J.)
(tat pratisedha artham eka tattva abhyasah)”
Although the solution to overcoming these obstacles is simple, that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. As we know, the mind is quite strong in its resistance to becoming still but the path of yoga is equipped with many tools that enable us to work through this even if just for a few breaths. In fact many spiritual and religious practices work in just this way- japa mala, rosary prayer, sigils, meditation, vision boards, etc- The key to all of this being the repeated attention to a single point. This is perhaps why so many of these traditions have renunciates (monks, nuns, sadhus, and so forth), spiritual aspirants who give up the motions of the mundane world to pursue their spiritual awakening.
So how can I practice this repeated single pointed attention to firmly establish a strong yoga practice as a house holder, someone who is fully immersed in the throes of the modern world? One option is Renunciation in the form of a retreat.
By taking an extended period of time away from home, beyond the scope of daily ritual we have an opportunity to replace our habits and excuses with disciplined practice. Think about it, with 24 hours in a day, away from the distractions of work, home responsibilities, socializing, there turns out to be plenty of time to dedicate to practice. And under the correct guidance, the retreat can be a great opportunity to feel the effects of a rooted yoga practice develop. That doesn’t necessarily mean that by the end of the week we will have developed great universal knowledge. But if for just a moment you feel what it is to step into a rhythm of Sadhana, the roots of sustained practice begin to grow.
At the Bheemashakti Yoga 2015 Kauai Retreat we will take 8 days and 7 nights to focus on twice daily practice as taught by my teacher Jonathan Patriarca. The morning will be marked by one hour of Ashtanga Pranayama and meditation followed by two hours of Dimensional Practice. After a plant based macrobiotic breakfast there will be time for contemplation, relaxation and exploration. The afternoon will begin our second session of Pranayama and Meditation accented by Asana Practice. Another plant based dinner will conclude the activities for the day. This sequence of practice has been designed to prepare the student to develop a deeper understanding of their yoga practice through repetition. As Jonathan would say “you can have an experience,” which he believed to be the strongest form of wisdom.
Through this spring time ritual you can plant seeds of inspired consistency to firmly ground your practice. Develop a deep rooted ceremony for yourself and grow strong in your pursuits of Self discovery.
Check out the details here: www.bheemashakti.org
See you there, Troy