Jen Portman, teacher and Synergy Hot Yoga studio owner, began a vinyasa class a couple of weeks ago discussing the topic of discipline. I had just left my house, arguing with my 6 year old about brushing her teeth (she said she just “hates to do it”), to find Jen making the comparison between yoga and brushing your teeth! She said that much like how we grow from not caring, appreciating or liking this task, it becomes something that feels really good. Same with yoga: initially it is difficult to put our bodies through some of the postures, but with consistent practice it comes to feel good and becomes something the body, and in time, the mind crave. This is where the discipline comes in.
Remaining disciplined during the summer break, with not only three children at home, but a new puppy added into the mix! Our schedules are altered…actually non-existent…however, I’ve managed to maintain my yoga practice. Am I able to get to all of the classes I’ve come to love or spend as many hours as usual in the yoga room? Not every week, but I’ve stayed focused and dedicated to coming to my mat every day and feed that mind, body, soul craving. The only reason it’s been possible amidst the natural chaos of life at home is through discipline…oftentimes setting an alarm to get to a 6 a.m. practice.
The Bikram series has been essential in strengthening my discipline. The pause between sets and between postures aids in increased awareness in being still, which requires a great deal of discipline. There is attention and intention brought to these pauses. There is a specific cue for the first water break, as well as “discouragement” of wiping sweat on clothing or a hand towel. In a room that is heated to over 105 degrees, this is no easy feat. In terms of the postures, the discipline of practicing this set series creates a quality of muscle memory and can enable students to notice progress or even just differences in the body if they are focused. And again, there is the stillness.
This discipline has enriched my life off the mat in many ways. By far my favorite “off the mat” benefit of deeper discipline is that quality of stillness. Pause before, between, at the end of an action is not often naturally occurring. Yoga teaches me to create those moments of stillness for myself, for my girls, when we need them (and we all do!). It also teaches me to think before I act or react, a priceless gift. Maintaining a disciplined practice during a difficult time of the year gives me a deep sense of pride and accomplishment, but more importantly that beautiful stillness allows me to stay calm in a chaotic environment. On a more basic level, my discipline consistently transfers over to the food choices I make, contributing to a healthy and strong body. It has also enabled me to show my children the value of dedicating yourself to something so nurturing to body, mind and spirit. It’s helped me adjust and begin to train our sweet new puppy…a family addition I firmly denied for over ten years despite my children’s desperate begging.
Am I disciplined every minute of the day? Hell to the no!…I eat dessert, I don’t complete all of my daily “to do” list tasks, and occasionally I skip yoga (not really). But next time the kids complain that I’m going to yoga “AGAIN?”…I’ll remind them without my discipline, we would not have a dog! And then I’ll ask them to brush their teeth…AGAIN!