Remembering our responsibilities in our yoga practice

Something to remember...

Many people find it hard to find the time to get to a yoga class and that's where a home practice can make all the difference. But sometimes, it's even hard to motivate yourself or find the time to practice at home (especially with all the distractions around you). 

I recently read in the Bhagavad Gita (the A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translation) that as much as our yoga practice is important, so are our other duties in life. Page 342 text 32 says, "He is the best yogi because he does not desire perfection in yoga for his personal benefit, but tries for others also...The yogi who has withdrawn to a secluded place in order to meditate perfectly may not be as perfect as a devotee who is trying his best to turn every man toward Krishna consciousness."

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the highest regarded spiritual texts from India. And here it is reminding us that it isn't necessarily our duty to run off into the mountains and live in a cave away from 'life'. Perhaps some of us are meant to live a crazy, busy life and find what time we can for our yoga practice.

Be open to disruption

I find that a lot of teachers put pressure on you to have a dedicated morning or evening practice every single day. As much as yoga is a huge part of my life, so are my family, friends and other hobbies. We all have to make a living. We all have to show those we care about that we love them and, lets face it, we all need time to bum around and switch off. The art of yoga is just that - balancing.

Life is one big balancing act. Therefore, it might not be practical for us to spend every single morning practising yoga. It might be that we have an intense week at work and we need a lie in on a few days to avoid becoming run down. Or we have a sick relative so we don't get chance to practice for weeks. Whatever the scenario, it's important to remember that you can only do your best with what you have. 

Remembering the deeper reason as to why we practice yoga 

Yoga is the practice of, quite simply, becoming a better person through increased self-awareness. However, yoga is not meant to be a selfish practice.  The more we can connect to our own breath and to how our body feels, the more we can notice around us and the more empathy we can show towards others. 

We should never ignore our other duties for our asana practice. Yes, we can make our asana practice a priority but we shouldn't exclude others from our lives or not socialise to fit it in. When we can't find the time to practice or something happens to disrupt our practice (screaming children, cat throwing up - anything!) it doesn't matter. It doesn't make you a bad yogi. It just means you need to find your balance again (and not through your tree pose). Life is not perfectly planned and nor can your yoga practice be. It's good to have discipline and regularity in your practice but it's no good beating yourself up when things fall out of routine.

Our duties in life are much bigger than our asana practice. Our main duties are to show compassion, love and understanding to all beings. So if your child is screaming and you're in the middle of Savasana - the bigger thing to do is to help that person in need. Whatever we practice on the mat is ultimately for the good of others. There is no need to have a greedy self practice where you ignore the other important bits in your life. Expand your practice out into the world.