Is anyone else out there completely fed up with being cold and wet? This is about the time of year that I begin to question why I’ve chosen to live in Seattle anyway and find myself fantasizing about island living on a daily basis.
This is also a time of year I often see students wavering in their motivation to practice. Understandably, those heartfelt intentions set back on 1/1 can seem now like distant memories and before we know it life has overshadowed the promises we made to ourselves just a few months ago.
This is totally normal; in fact it’s a pattern I see all the time. Maybe you can relate. You start yoga and although it’s difficult at first, there’s something about it that makes you want more. So you buy a class card and make a commitment to continue. You start out rockin’. You come a couple times weekly and you feel great. You might still feel a bit awkward and like this yoga thing is harder than you expected, but overall you believe in the fact that this is good for you so you keep going. Like anything else new, gradually the enthusiasm begins to fade. You consider all the extra arrangements you have to make in your life to get to class and begin to doubt the value of doing this anyway. (Kinda like me and living in Seattle.) Even though you’ve been feeling more relaxed and at ease, you think maybe you don’t really need a yoga class to keep that going. Then before you know it, weeks even months have passed since you’ve been on the mat. Sound familiar? It does to me.
So how do we get ourselves back on track?
Well it’s kind of the same way all of us Seattle-ites continue to stick it out through our long, dark, wet winters. We have faith that Spring will come again, and if not Spring, hopefully Summer, at least by the end of August.
Yoga Sutra I.20 basically offers the same notion to help us get ourselves back to what we’re committed to. This Sutra says that sraddha, which is faith, gives us virya, which is energy, and that energy helps us focus. Maintaining faith, energy and focus keeps us going strong and moving toward our goal.
As with all things in yoga and Sanskrit everything has multiple meanings. The word sraddha is an example of that. In his book, The Essence of Yoga, Bernard Buanchard says that sraddha means both ‘faith in God,’ and ‘self confidence,’ meaning that in terms of yoga, ‘faith in God’ and ‘confidence in oneself’ is one in the same!
This one word in Sutra I.20 tells us that we don’t have to adopt any religious belief or have choose any meaning that isn’t just right for us about what “faith” means. Rather it tells us that with confidence in ourselves, confidence that all we need is within us, we can achieve all that we want on our yoga path. Alternatively, the same word tells us that we can look outside of self to anything that gives us strength, whether it be God, or nature, or a best friend or simply life itself.
Sraddha reinforces the fundamental message of yoga that there is no separation between self and the divine. Yoga does not define what the divine is, it leaves it up to you. This Sutra tells us that what matters is our faith in the value of our practice, our energy to take action, and our focus to stay the course.
It’s kind of like making it through the long rainy Seattle winter. We can look inward for the confidence that tells us the beauty of the Pacific Northwest makes is totally worth living with her weather challenges. Or we can look outward to nature and know that no matter, what the seasons will continue to change, buds will continue to bloom, and one day soon, we will be warm and dry and enjoying sunshine once again. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
May you be filled with renewed confidence and energy in your yoga practice. Make sure to check out Lila Yoga’s upcoming events and join us soon! We look forward to keeping you energized on your journey.
Lila Yoga Director