Devotional practice, what does it mean?
I was fortunate to have participated in a yoga teacher training course this weekend called Postures to Prayers, I hadn't put much thought into the workshop title because to me subject matter was not important I was excited to attend because it was being led by one of the greatest yoga teachers in North America!
When I arrived, the facilitator Christina Sell asked of the group what the word prayer meant to each of us and how it related to our lives... and then we journaled...
Or at least everyone else journaled while I sat there with a blank stare on my face, boggled as to what everyone was scribbling about so fervently.
I get nervous and all thought leaves my head when I'm asked to delve into a mammoth concept straight away with the expectation of sharing my thoughts and feelings about it immediately.
I am a slow processor, kind of like an old desk top computer in the age of ipads and smartphones.
So (to my own surprise) when I volunteered to share my thoughts on the subject, that I had none, and that I needed to practice first and then process before I could comprehend the revelance of this subject matter in an intelligent way, I was met with confused gazes from other students and a few whispering snickers. What was I doing here if I didn't have an answer? the group seemed to interrogate with their eyes. Christina too seemed unsatisfied with my answer, like I should have had more.
And so we began...
An intense, vigorous yoga practice of hip openers, arm balances and intent focus on minutiae alignment cues that would push even the most seasoned yoga practitioner to the edge of sanity.
I sat with it, I breathed, boy did I breath! I connected to a place so deep within myself that I missed the cues to release and move on. After the first 3 hour practice with limp arms and exhausted body I pressed on into the weekend of learning. I wanted to "be there", like really be present and to learn from this incredible woman. I wanted to feel in my body all that she was teaching so that maybe one day I could articulate her mastery into my own practice or perhaps even teach it to my students.
And then just like a light bulb, the answer to the question was clear.
Prayer is a devotional practice.
Yoga is my devotional practice.
This is not a new concept by any means, there are thousands of blogs on the subject, but it was the first time I had been challenged to see the connection, to understand what it meant to pray and to actually experience it full body.
Holy crap! I thought, I did it. I completely unpacked a word that holds many people in a state of animosity, a word that says religious, a word that makes you weird in the eyes of the non-conformists. There must be something wrong if you have to pray to something...
But there I was praying on my mat to a greater power that allows me to live my days with health, happiness and a sense of completion.
Interestingly enough at the end of the weekend Christina asked me to share my thoughts on the original question, I guess my absent minded answer stayed with her too. Had I reached any resolution on the matter she asked?
And what I said was, "all I need is my practice to be reminded of what it means to me." We shared a smile and the weekend was over.