Finding discipline on and off the mat

August 29, 2016


The Old French descepline referred to punishment and suffering. The Latin disciplina meant "teaching, learning." The Old English version referred to a branch of knowledge or field of study. So what is discipline in regards to yoga on and off the mat?


When you have discipline, you have self-control. Yoga discipline is not forced. It is born of clarity and commitment. This is the way I have been taught.


When I am lying in bed, resisting practice, instead of blaming myself for my reluctance, this is where discipline comes in; not the punishment type but the learning type. Learning what it takes to actually maintain a routine of practice in accordance with ones choice, decision and commitment. Patanjali describes yoga as, “control over the fluctuations of the mind.” He goes ahead and says, “Control over the mind’s fluctuations comes from a persevering practice and nonattachment”. These two complement each other, perseverance is the will and nonattachment is about surrender so then with the resistance in my warm bed, I can make clear my intention and refocus my commitment; I can use the “5 whys” after every answer from my first question to bring clarity and to remember that before any transformation we need to acknowledge where we are; the resistance, and make a choice to surrender, to let go of attachment to the outcome of the practice. I can also let go of my doubts, fears, insecurities, and struggle, and dig deep into my strength, determination, and faith in the process of yoga. No good thing in life comes easy; one can do well to remember that as well. Rather than choosing the easy way, I can choose what is good for me: I think I would rather face the difficulties in my practice than remain stuck in resistance and without the benefit of my practice.


This made clear; will certainly get me out of bed, and onto my mat—and reduce chances of resistance day after day.As we continue practicing, summoning our will power to move forward, seeking clarity whenever we are in doubt, commitment to stay the course will eventually build momentum to help carry us ahead through the most difficult times of sheer resistance, fear and boredom. “Step out of your comfort zone and commit to growth.” Baron Baptiste 12 laws of transformation.


The objective of yoga is to live your practice in all aspects of your life. Life itself becomes the practice and you recognize that every person in our lives is also a part of our greater selves. This union is how we cultivate the inspiration and compassion necessary to make meaningful changes in the world.


Practicing Yoga off the Mat


If union is the goal of yoga then solidarity, equality, justice and freedom for all is crucial for personal and collective liberation.

Off the Mat founders Hala Khouri, Suzanne Sterling and Seane Corn


To the work you own the right but not to the results thereof. First Tenant of Karma yoga


On the mat you stretch your muscles; in the community you strive to find a middle ground with the population. In yoga we learn how to breathe though the sensations as we hold the pose. Likewise, in the real world it’s just as difficult to deal with different people- so you learn to return to your breath. On the mat we don’t push too hard, it never works; the same is true in social situations. There are no “end results” to focus on; instead you learn to cherish the journey and appreciate the process.


Form answers- We learn from our mistakes. Seek to become part of the solution as you breathe deep to find answers from where you stand and move forward with conviction; such is what liberates us to access creativity in the face of adversity and to remember yoga is the practice for the real world! So stay flexible in your body and in your mind.


Speak out - The body opens up when you take time to listen to it, and give it your presence. The same is true for your friends, many of whom desire to find their voice and be heard just as much as you do. In a yoga class you set an intention to quiet your monkey mind. There is absolutely doable in life as well. In this state, your mind gives voice to so many things that are possibilities waiting to be awakened. This state of openness and emptiness is often felt in savasana when the mind shifts into the alpha mode (creative mode) and with focus and intentionality you can bring this state of mind to the world around you.


Building Community - Realize that none of us is an Island and cannot exist without other people. As the spirit of others around you energizes you, bring it in life off your mat. Surround yourself with others who are like minded and keep inviting others to join the circle. A spirit of inclusivity, openness, acceptance, non-judgment creates a contagious environment and strengthens the community.


Change within to bring change without -  The internal change will bring the external change or transformation. The physical is influenced by the non-physical, by adjusting your own vibration you will shift the vibration of those around you. If I can learn to tolerate other people in anger and seek to see things from their point of view as opposed to my own, the difference melts away, love and understanding becomes a possibility. Yoga is union, so every effort to find common ground and connection will create a space for something beautiful, for transformation. Impact is enhanced when we create likeness with ourselves, with each other, and with our environment.














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