My personal practice is about my relationship to God. My primary practice is the cultivation of mood, or bhava. I am looking for those things that help me be resonant with a mood of love, devotion, gratitude, surrender, compassion and sanctity. I find asana the best physical exercise for the cultivation of this mood. I also love bike rides in the mountains, hikes in nature and any time I can play in a river I am happy, whether I am swimming, stand-up paddle boarding or paddling a kayak. Being in nature connects me with grandeur, beauty and with a magical and rich form of simplicity.
I find mantra very helpful in cultivating mood. Drawing, writing and reading inspirational books is helpful. I have a few simple and profound pranayama practices and inner-inquiry practices I learned from my guru which are also helpful. I sit in meditation almost daily which is also helpful. And so on.
I have been on the hunt for this mood of sanctity since I was a small child. I always loved church and Sunday School and have always had an active prayer life. By the time I was 18, I was in throes of bulimia and other self-destructive behaviors. This mood became a Necessity for me, not a passing interest. Had I not found doorways into the vastness of my inner life at an early age, if I had not found a way to coonnect my life to a larger stream of inquiry, had I not explored a way to rely on something greater than my limited self, I would have been dead before I turned 20. No doubt. But instead, I suppose, I got interested in God. And yoga has been part of that.
The God part was first for me. Necessity was next. Yoga came later. Asana even later still.
Of course, making my spiritual life into a life or death matter isn’t a long-term strategy and created as many problems over the long haul as it solved initially, but that is a different post for a different day.
Simply put, my practice is about doing more of those things that help me cultivate a mood of devotion and surrender as well as minimizing those things that interfere with it. My practice is not so much about checking items off a to-do list or about creating an ever-increasing list of things from which I am abstaining to prove my purity or to make up for my sinful nature. It’s not like that for me. (Clearly, I have controlling, obsessive and self-critical tendencies so practice can be like that for me. Truth be told, practice has been like that at times. But that is not essentially what I am up to these days. And I work with some diligence to stay off that road as I have found it counter-productive at this stage of my life.)
My practice is about God. My practice is about Love and about an ever-expansive relationship with myself and my Self. Sometimes that expansive relationship is full of things I enjoy learning about and other times there is some tough stuff to face. But either way, I am who I have so I am working with it.
(This is part 1 of a three part series by Christina Sell. You can read Part 2 here on Practice: The Teaching)
Christina Sell has been practicing yoga since 1991. Masterful at synthesis, she combines fundamental precepts and techniques from her many years of study in various yoga schools into an intelligent and inspiring experience for students of all ages and abilities. She is passionate about basic yoga postures as a way to open the doors to a greater depth of understanding, increased awareness and physical expression. Christina is the founder and director of the San Marcos School of Yoga in San Marcos, TX where she resides with her husband, three cats and a retired greyhound. When not teaching or practicing yoga you can find her hiking, mountain biking, kayaking or on her SUP. For more on Christina visit her website here.
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