Practicing Gratitude: Setting your Intention
Written by Anne Calder.
Step forward to the front of your mat. Hands come together in a motion of prayer, gesture of honesty and depth. Some teachers may choose to chant and others begin the class as such and continue to flow forward. The composition is similar yet the intentions vary. We can forget, as we wrap ourselves within the maya of daily life, to bring that awareness into our asana practice. Like everything can become habitual, there is no exception to this practice.
Early rising and attendance to your practice. The energy flows, shifts and the breath allows for expansion and focus. That level of expansion is all within your control. The thoughts you allow the space to permeate and ruminate within your mind become your reality. Truth can become of what cycles about in consciousness and life will therefore manifest itself accordingly. This is a lesson I've been taught and know, although sometimes dismissed.
Yoga is a practice that is carried out throughout all our days. It is a lifestyle and there is no denying the magnificent benefits and blossoms you reap. However, you can delve even deeper by simply setting an intention. Ashtanga, meaning "eight-limbs," is the basis to all yoga practices. Set aside what you may assume of Ashtanga so far, it doesn't necessarily refer to the Vinyasa practice we know of. It is defined by the eight steps (or limbs) to a full practice. Whether you may already know or not, asanas come in third. Fundamentals to a strong practice are begun with the Yamas and Niyamas, otherwise known as constraints and rules of conduct or observances.
There is a marked predisposition in this modern day and age to disregard the primary philosophy and jump straight to steps three and four (asana and pranayama) due to the fact that we are in eminent need of a physical reality to bring balance first and foremost, in order to connect to the mind, and subsequently cultivate the profound mind-based aspects. Needless to say, these are changing times and you can't always follow the traditional guidelines established many hundreds of years ago.
You need to adjust and adapt to what is necessary for you in order to allow a connection with the practice and the yamas and niyamas tend to fall into place later on. There appears to be a mass disconnection from mind and so the trend seems to prove that we need to understand this practice physically and affirm that the benefits are indeed true and not mythical. Once the faith in the practice is established, the rest follows, including the first two limbs of yoga.
When you come to the front of your mat and your hands gracefully join at your heart center, take that moment to set the rhythm for your practice. Strangely enough, it may require some time and patience before you become habituated to this simple addition yet the results will be obvious and powerful. This doesn't have to become a complicated process, it's more of a simple reminder.
You just need to recognize why you're there, that this is your dharma and convey consciousness and awareness to it. As an example, I will usually ask myself what it is that I wish to get out of the practice for that day. Simple. Once you get into the groove of setting intentions for your practice, prolong it. Determine what you would like your day to resemble. How can you bring more peace into your life? More joy and radiance? And furthermore into the lives of those surrounding you? Most importantly, what can you show gratitude for right now?
Practicing gratitude has proven me to be one of the most astounding ways of expanding your life. You can start small by showing thanks for elements that seem more obvious, surface and then continue to dig. Acknowledgment of the plenitude that has been bestowed upon you is imperative. If we take not for granted what has already been given, the universe will only continue to help move your forward. Gifts will come from all corners and angles, especially to a trained eye.
Your consciousness will naturally expand and your energy grows abundant all from having truly seen the beauty you've been given. Next, and of equal value, you will be allowed to give that much more. The vibration that will emanate from you will automatically be recognized and responded to. Your simple presence and example will allow you not only to mold life around you, but also lead others' lives in a positive light.
I needn't tell you more of the possibilities yet to come. You will quickly discover for yourself if you so choose to tighten that tiny, yet necessary, bolt around your practice. So the next time you join your palms at the center of your chest, manifest!
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