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Grounding in Practice

This sutra can help us open to presence in practice and in life, and connect to the true motivation for anything we wish to cultivate. For me, that true motivation always comes back to love.

Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.

Some of my clients and class participants come to yoga for the exercise. Others for the stress reduction. And some come for the meditative components. This sutra applies to everyone. If you want strong arms, you have to exercise them. If you want strong self-love, you have to practice showing up for yourself. If you want to be your best self with the people you care about, yoga is one tool to help with that.

Yoga isn't just the physical movements and postures. Yoga is about connecting to wisdom. Whatever your heritage, philosophy or religion--when you pay attention to your mental and spiritual self, you are practicing yoga.

Often when people hear this sutra, they feel guilty or daunted. We've been conditioned by our Capitalist society, and possibly by our families of origin and other social influences, to hold ourselves up to impossibly perfect standards and see where we fall short. "Oh, last week I slept late and didn't go to yoga. I'm lazy." "I skipped a few weeks after my vacation, I should have come back sooner."

First of all, sometimes we genuinely need rest. Sometimes rest means down-time, unstructured free time. And sometimes we might actually be lazy: we're human! Yoga is always happy to have you back when you're ready. Don't worry about these little breaks. Just come back as soon as you can. Yoga is the practice of living a conscious life. In the scheme of a lifetime, a few weeks off is nothing! Even a few years off is nothing. If you're tending to your mental and spiritual health, you're doing the practice.

Rather than feeling bogged down by the discipline required to show up for the work, this sutra inspires me to relax into the practice and open to presence. Imagine you have the day off and you decide to plant a garden, or move a plant into a bigger pot. You have plenty of time. You put your hands in the soil. What does it feel like? Can you smell the earthiness of the soil? Perhaps the freshness of the leaves? Feel the lifeforce in the plant or seeds. How do you feel in your body? In your heart?

In times like this, I get a special feeling. In a way, I love the plant I am trying to plant. I also feel connected to something bigger than myself. How many people in the world get satisfaction from digging their hands in the soil, and tending and befriending living things? How may of our ancestors did this? I am connected to life itself--the energy of creation coursing in this plant, causing it to grow. I am a conduit of the life force.

And when we practice yoga we are practicing along with all the other people in the world, and all the ancestors who practiced before us. Many people connect to God as they understand God through their yoga practice.

If none of this resonates with you, at least you know that when you exercise you are taking care of yourself. Does exercise make you feel better? When we take care of ourselves we feel more resourced so we can be our best with the people we care about.

Anything we want can be cultivated through practice. If you want to learn to bake the perfect bread, you practice and tweak your recipe until it's just right. I am always working on my patience.

This sutra can help us open to presence in practice and in life, and connect to the true motivation for anything we wish to cultivate. For me, that true motivation is always love. When I tweak my recipe and finally make the perfect loaf of bread I feel a love of life and full of joy. I did something well just for the beauty of doing something well. And breaking that bread with friends and loved ones brings us all together. Who doesn't feel alive when they're eating something delicious and made with love? And when I eat something prepared for me with love I have mudita--sympathetic joy in the good work, achievement and joy of someone else.

Yoga is a simple practice of cultivating the heart and mind so that we can find more ease and freedom. It is not a destination that can be reached and then it's all done. Like a garden, our hearts and minds require consistent nurturing. That means we have to do some work. But it is the ultimate labor of love: love for ourselves and everyone we care about.

What inspires you to come to yoga? Do you want to deepen your practice? Create more consistency? Congratulate yourself for the consistency you have!

Some easy ways to deepen practice at home:

  • Beautify your practice space. Even one small picture or statue that makes you feel uplifted can increase the delight in your practice. Flowers are always nice, too.

  • Light scented candles or incense before practice.

  • Put on music in the background.

  • If you are religious, bring imagery into the space.

  • Write an inspiring quote on a sheet of paper and place it in your space, or with your yoga equipment. Or put it in a frame and place it in your space.

  • Treat yourself to a yoga blanket that is used just for yoga.

  • Tune in to the ritual of beginning. Be present when you roll out your mat. Even setting aside the time to practice is an opening ritual and creates special space.

Bhumiparsha Mudra - Touching the Earth Mudra

Mudras are hand shapes created in yoga, South Asian Dance, and other places.

Notice the last word in this sutra, Bhumi. Bhumi means Earth and is also the name of an Earth Goddess in Hinduism, Bhumi or Bhumi Devi.

The day the Buddha reached enlightenment, Mara, the God of Death, tried to scare him out of his meditation before he could achieve enlightenment. Buddha turned his left palm up in Prajna mudra, connecting to his true inner wisdom. He reached his right hand down and touched the earth--.Bhumisparsha mudra (literally Touch the Earth Mudra). The Earth Goddess Bhumi rose up and bore witness for him--supporting him against the God of Death.

When we turn the left palm up in Prajna mudra, we connect with our innate wisdom within. When we reach our right hand down into Bhumisparsha mudra, we are connecting to our inherent worthiness. When Mara comes at us, as he does, and tells us that we don't deserve something, we can connect to that inherent worthiness. Yes there may be things that we would like to cultivate within ourselves--that just takes practice. But that doesn't take away from our inherent worthiness. You deserve to exist and be and find peace just because you are here, now. The energy of the universe that gives rise to all things gave rise to you. You are that energy, that light.

Chant the Sutra

Want to learn to chant the sutra in Sanskrit? Here is a beautiful teaching by Manorama.

Suh-TOO Deer-g(h)uh-kah-LUH Nie-run-tuhr-YUH Suht-kah-rah-say-vi-to Drd-(h)a-B(H)OO-mi(h)

Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.

May this practice serve for the benefit of all! ❤️🙏

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