Guru Bob is very fond of his Sadhana. He has several of them, by the way, but then he is a Guru … But his favourite is walking in nature and communicating with his own kind as only a proud but gentle doggy knows how. Sadhana is described thus by the Late Great Mr Iyengar: “Sādhanā is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal…. A sādhaka, or practitioner, is one who skillfully applies…mind and intelligence in practice towards a spiritual goal.” Here’s an image of Bob doggedly (ahem!) pursuing his daily sadhana … which is to sniff out his canine companions and then let every single one of them know that they’re following in his footsteps, walking, so to speak, along his path. He practices this sadhana dilligently and prolifically, because of course, if you don’t practise with intention and dedication you will never reach your spiritual goal. Bob knows his sadhana of old as he repeats it several times a day, but he is never disappointed to find that each time he comes to perform it, there is something new and different to discover within it! The world around us and that dazzling adventure that is life provides a playground of endless possibilities, which is just what brings guru Bob such huge satisfaction in his work.
So here again, we are led to a very important point by our cuddly canine companion. The more we practise something, keeping in mind a higher goal, and giving our all to our work, the more we gain from it. Anyone who has a regular Ashtanga Yoga practice regularly repeats the same sequence again and again; preferrably daily. The Ashtanga Primary series gives us a framework to dedicate ourselves to diving deep, to seeing what lies beneath the surface, to discovering what we are truly made of. Each time you take this one set of poses, albeit quite a lengthy one if you’re doing the whole thing, you notice something different. Patience and dilligence uncover hidden secrets you never knew about yourself, for instance how determined you are, how you react in the face of challenge, what your work ethic says about you. The Ashtanga Primary series begins with a “warm up” of 5 Sun Salutation A’s and 5 sun salutation B’s. This is where our August sun salutation challenge comes in. As I was loitering with intent in the fabulous realm that is Pinterest, I came across a 31 day challenge to do 10 minutes of sun salutations. What a great idea! So although we’re already a few days into the month, here’s the challenge for anyone to take up:
For the rest of this month
Salutations to the Sun for 10 minutes!!
Yes, daily. Yes, 10 minutes only. It’s nothing! It’s a mere blip in the passage of our lives! It’s WORTH IT FOLKS!!!! As my dear ashtanga teacher used to tell us, just come to the mat, do 5 A’s and 5 B’s and see where it leads you. However, read on if you are not accustomed to saluting the sun …
Here are some guidelines for newbies to sun salutations:
1) Start slowly and gradually. Doing 10 minutes of sun salutation practice does NOT mean you have to do as many as possible in the time given – as with anything, it’s quality over quantity. So if you’ve never practised the sequence before start gradually and do what you can – for instance if you have difficulty bringing one foot forward from down dog back to the wrist, and you can’t do it in one step, “pick it up and shove it”!! Literally get hold of your ankle with the same side hand, and hop it forward as you pull it into position. If you can’t hold a plank, when transitioning from down dog to go up into cobra, just bring the shoulders forward and immediately lower down onto your belly (but go gently, try not to collapse!) It may be clunky and awkward at first, but remember practise makes perfect!
2) Get really familiar and comfortable with variation A before you move onto any other variation. B is a lot more taxing than A so be content to walk before you run with this practice. If it was easy the first time we did it we wouldn’t bother to stick with it!
3) Take time to integrate the breath into your practise. Here’s a Basic Sun Salute – Handout you can use which gives you instruction on the breath.
4) If you’re really not sure what you’re doing, it’s a great idea to search the internet for videos with instruction, just Google “sun salutation A” and you’re sure to find a wealth of vids to get you started.
5) Once you’re proficient in the basics, it’s a matter of working your way up gradually and at your own pace. Start with maybe 3 A’s, and leave it at that till you feel comfortable. Then work up to 5. Then maybe add on a B one at a time, until before you know it you’ll be doing 5 A’s and 5B’s like a seasoned ashtangi!
Good luck with the challenge everyone, feel free to comment on this pose (see link next to the title) to let me know how you’re doing and happy Sadhana!
Here’s a basic A diagram to get you started: