It all started out with my feeling that I really wanted to get back to my daily vinyasa yoga and meditation practice, but being overwhelmed by it. I would set my intention to get up in the morning, but then failed every time. It’s a common dilemma, not something new to me, and certainly something I knew everyone had experienced at some point in their lives.
So, I started to think about what would help me to be successful, and remembered the fitness challenges my friends had joined in the past. And that’s where the Sadhana Challenge came in.
Sadhana simply translated is “intentional practice.” In Tantrik parlance, it’s something you do with a goal in mind, typically meditation or japa (repetition of divine names and/or mantras), or specific rituals. The main thing is that there’s intention and regularity behind it.
The Challenge is simple – for the month of March, get up every morning earlier than you normally would, to perform your sadhana, your practice. For me, it’s getting up at 6 a.m., starting with meditation and japa practice, followed by vinyasa yoga. Keep a log of your progress, and don’t beat yourself up if you’re only able to do two minutes one morning – consistency is the real key to success in this Sadhana Challenge.
The other part of the intention is to offer the fruits of this sadhana for the benefit of world peace. To that end, we’re using the Upanisadic prayer:
Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu
May the Divine bless the entire world with eternal peace and happiness
I sent an email to our local SHARANYA community, asking if anyone might be interested – and I was blown away by the responses! All together, there are nine of us attempting the Challenge. I’ll be blogging about the progress of the group. You’re welcome to join us in your own way, too. Let us know if you’re inspired to join us – we will link you in with our prayers so you can be included in that web of support.
This morning I learned why we’re calling it a “Challenge”…
6 a.m. seemed to arrive so quickly, the sky still dark, streets still quiet. Bed was so very cozy! The alarm went off, and I hit the snooze button. But then our mantra started reverberating through my body. I could hear the voices of my Sisters and Brothers in community, and knew that I had to get up and begin this Sadhana Challenge. I’m telling you, it’s only through their support that I have been able to begin this at all!
Groggily, I turned off the alarm, sat up, and started silently repeating the mantra in my head as I put on my yoga gear and headed out to my simple altar. Maa was staring at me, her beautiful, shiny black eyes glowing in candlelight. A prayer to Ganesha to remove ostacles like grogginess and stubbornness. Then, invocations to fierce and loving Goddesses Tara and Kamakhya, to my Sisters and Brothers at SHARANYA, then practice of different levels of nyasa (the purification practice that places divine sound vibrations into the physical body), and finally surrendering into the love of the Divine Mother with my guru mantra (your secret mantra received at initiation). I closed with the peace mantra flowing from my lips, connecting me with my community.
Then, the vinyasa practice. I love this Yoga Shakti DVD by Shiva Rea! The pre-set workouts are great, but what really does it for me is what they call the “yoga matrix” – so you can create your own customized practice that changes daily (or stays the same – it’s up to you, really). Sun salutations, supine poses and shavasana were about all I could handle this morning. I felt the stiffness in my body and the slow and subtle opening of my ribcage, and knew this was a good practice to begin again.
The thing is, it’s not about me or my practice at all, and repeating the peace mantra throughout the sadhana reminded me deeply of that. While I feel really good about starting this morning, it’s also meaningless in the grand scheme of things. What is one day? It humbles and inspires me to think of great yogis/yoginis (some of whom are in our community) who do this every single day, no matter what. A good thought to keep the ego in check! While I use my daily commute for joyful japa, it’s not like making separate time for practice. So, I humbly ask Maa for the strength to continue daily. And, I am filled with gratitude for my community.
I hope to post stories of others doing the Challenge, and as time goes on we’ll let you know about our progress, too. And if you’re doing the Challenge yourself, post in the comments about your own experiences!