In my previous post, “What is a Personal Sadhana and Should We Try It,” I introduced the concept of the personal sadhana. Now, as promised, I give you an example of some of the elements in the personal plan I developed for myself. If you were not bored to tears from the last post, may you stay awake for this one. I will keep it brief so we can get to the good stuff, how to make your own.
In developing my sadhana, I started pretty broadly and determined what my two biggest challenges are at this time: adapting to the physical and emotional changes facing me both as an expecting mother and new yoga teacher. I asked myself “what do need to meet these changes with some grace and success.” I came up with the following answers: physical strength, endurance, creativity in the face of change, faith in myself, and a little pinch of assertiveness.
I chose to think of these goals in terms of Chakras. The Chakra system conveniently locates many of these qualities (creativity, assertiveness, endurance) in positions along the spine.These areas can be stimulated with poses and breathing techniques. According to ancient ayurvedic practices, each chakra has specific qualities, elements, colors, and mantras associated with it. In manipulating the chakras, we can bring them back into balance and improve well-being. This is only one way to address writing your personal Sadhana. Someone else may choose to address their specific goals by determining what needs to be removed in their lives, rather than what needs to be added. More on this next time.
The Chakras I am targeting with my 30 day Sadhana are the Sacral Chakra (Svadisthana in Sanskrit), and the Navel Chakra (Manipura in Sanskrit). The Sacral chakra is located, you guessed it, at the level of the sacrum in the body. It is believed that when this chakra is in balance it produces unlimited creativity and love. It is associated with the water element. Given its location at the level of the sacrum, and its association with water, movements that stimulate and balance the sacral chakra are “hip-openers” and fluid, rolling movements. So, my daily practice now includes plenty of hip-openers such as lunges, squats, and seated stretches to get into the hips. These also carry the benefit of promoting strength in the legs and endurance if the poses are held for some time. Great for pregnant ladies.
My other goals for assertiveness and self-confidence find their home in the Navel Chakra, located, yes, at the navel. When this chakra is in balance, we find our will power and assertiveness. This is our fire center, where we produce heat and core strength, and burn off impurities. Activities that address the navel chakra are any poses that involve core work or producing heat in the body: plank pose, twists, chataranga, and arm balances. Accordingly, my daily routine also includes plenty of chataranga (you may recall an earlier post about my new love of this challenging pose) and plank. In addition, I am incorporating breathing techniques which help build heat in the body, like the famous “Darth Vader Breathe,” or Ujjayi, that yoga teachers love to talk about so much.
Those were a lot of words to explain that, based upon some personal goals I have for myself, I chose a few poses which I believe will target those goal. The next step is to make the commitment to practice this plan every day.
It’s important to note that yoga poses are only one of many potential elements in a personal sadhana. A personal sadhana need not include any yoga poses at all. Other elements could include a daily meditation, breathing techniques, a gratitude diary, dietary changes, sleep practices, or a personal mantra.
In my next blog post I’ll share some ideas on how to begin designing your daily practice to meet your own specific goals. I hope you come back to join me for that; the next one is all about you!