Having practiced yoga for more than 20 years, seen it taught under a variety of circumstances, and taught to many groups and individuals myself over the years, I have observed there are certain patterns and tendencies that can present a hinderance to the yoga practitioner.
Continuity of Practice
Perhaps the most important of these patterns to address is the challenge of committing to and maintaining a regular practice. I have found that, in general, continuity of practice—from one day to the next—is more important than how long one spends on each yoga session. The more continuously and consistently we give our attention to anything in Life the more we bring it to Life, for ourself, into our direct experience.
Under most circumstances 12 minutes of spiritual practice each (and every) day is going to generate greater benefit than doing one or two 60 minute classes each week. In the same way, doing 12 minutes of yoga practice a day over a number of months is going to bring forth greater benefits than doing a solid one week yoga retreat a few times a year, with little practice in between. Why 12 minutes?
Actually, my recommendation is 12 minutes twice a day: first thing in the morning, and the last thing at night, giving you 24 minutes in total. With just two 12 minute yoga sessions you will be dedicating one minute of being Present, Alert, and Aware—centred in your Breath and within your body-mind-spirit—to each waking and sleeping hour of the day and night. As simple as this may sound, the effects are profound.
For this reason I have create the 12 Minute Challenge.
The 12 Minute Challenge
If you wish to really explore the inner realms and gifts of yoga, and to deepen your spiritual experience, my invitation and challenge to you is this:
Commit, from this moment forward, to a yoga practice of at least one or (preferably) two 12 minute sessions each day.
That’s 12 minutes in the morning right after waking, and 12 minutes in the evening just retiring to bed.
The commitment you are making a dedication of just 24 minutes in a day to your Inner Presence. One minute for each hour of the day and night. If two sessions are not possible on occasion, that is perfectly okay, so long as a commitment to at least one 12 minute session, morning or evening, is maintained.
Continuity of practice is the key.
You may find there are ways in which to utilise your 12 minute dedication which will bring greater or differing benefits. Overall I have found a combination of yoga asana (postures), breathing exercises, and silent meditation to work best.
In the morning I recommend the following routine:
- 6 minutes of Yoga Asana
>> 6 asana / postures
>> 30 seconds each, left and right sides / or front and back (depending on the posture)
- 4 minutes of Pranayama (conscious breathing exercises)
>> 1-2 minutes breath of fire
>> 2-3 minutes alternate nostril breathing
- 2 minutes of silent sitting meditation
In the evening I suggest this routine:
- 6 minutes of Yoga Asana
>> 4 asana / postures
>> 45 seconds each, left and right sides / or front and back (depending on the posture)
- 2 minutes of Pranayama
>> 2 minutes of alternate nostril breathing
- 4 minutes of silent sitting meditation
These routines are suggestions only. Try them as I have suggested for a number of days, or a week. Give your selected routine a fair trail, then you’ll get a preliminary feel for its effects. Over time, discover and practice what works for you. There are bound to be days when you have more time available to you and your yogic dedication. On those days extend your session. Even adding just a a minute or two more will allow you to go deeper, and relax more. 13 minutes… 15… perhaps even a 20 minute session will be possible at times. Go for it!
Twelve minutes goes by very quickly, so maintaining a practice such as this is will be possible and relatively easy for even the busiest of people.
Why this approach?
Of course each approach has its own benefits. Long daily sessions and long intensive retreats allow the practitioner to go to depths that are not likely to be reached during short daily sessions. Yet, if those depths are reached but a yoga practice is not sustained, then a lot of what was “gained” or unveiled in a yoga retreat may in fact be lost or veiled again. What I have found is that, with appropriate guidance, someone doing a relatively short yoga practice every day, is soon able to gain the depth of a more intensive practice by a shift that will take place in their approach to day-to-day living. This day-to-day living is soon transformed into a practice in itself, and has the potential to reveal deep blockages, shed light on difficult challenges, and bring dissolution to stubborn dysfunctional mental, emotional, and spiritual patterns and tendencies.
Want to go deeper?
Take a look at the [intlink id=”91″ type=”page”]next article[/intlink] in this series The Yoga Challenge, and discover how you can dedicate yourself to going even deeper into your yogic application and spiritual evolution.
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