Its that time of year where we all look forward to getting back to some kind of routine.
As a yoga teacher, I have been pondering on what to teach or what theme I wanted to weave into my classes this coming term.
As I welcomed the return to the routine of my teaching schedule I started to ask myself – what is routine? Why do we crave it and how does routine differ from ritual?
Routines are like our checklists that add structure for our day. They are often a dry set of movements or activities that we move through often mindlessly with little awareness– do you remember brushing your teeth or getting ready this morning, can you recall what order you moved through your daily routine to get ready for your day?
Rituals are similar to routines since they are also a series of tasks that are completed in the same order, but with a sense of sacredness, of meaning and deeper awareness. A ritual’s intent is to provide energy along with structure.
Rituals marry the sacred with the mundane.
The difference between a routine and a ritual is not necessarily the action, but the attitude behind the action. Its all about your intent or the Bhava (feeling).
So when it comes to our yoga practice – whether this is in class or at home, we have the choice to move through postures or sequences as a set routine or we can chose to participate in sacred ritual.
At its essence a ritual is about bringing sacredness into your life, and about honouring something greater than you and I.
There is a divine force, prana, energy, chi, call it what you will, that moves through all things. It is the same force that moves the plant to flower, the dog to bark, or lights up a baby’s face. As we become more aware of this energy moving in our lives and we connect to it, honour it and express our gratitude for it, it expands and colours our daily life with a light that connects us to all living things.
Lets look at Surya Namaskara (sun salutations) as an example.
This can be a routine set of postures that we come to know very well, we could go through the motions, flowing with the breath even, but it could be approached as a physical exercise routine, we could even find ourselves thinking about where we have to go after class or the never ending to do list as we move robotically through the poses.
Or , we could begin with our hands in prayer pose and dedicate our practice, or set an intention, this immediately changes the quality of our attention. Then we could create the sense of literally embodying the sun as you extend your arms above your head, and then as you flow down.
We could move through our namaskar as a thanks giving practice to the sun – for its light, radiance and life giving qualities. We could add sacred mantras as we move through this moving meditation, focus on the feel of life force moving through the body on the breath……
The options are limitless.
So this term in class at Yoga Wise Studio our focus is on Routines and Rituals, I hope that together in class we can create a sense of the sacred.
If you are practicing yoga at home how can you practice a yoga ritual?
What would that look like for you?
What small changes could you make to your routines off of the mat in your daily life to turn the mundane into the magical?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you have any sacred rituals you’d like to share.
From my heart to yours,