March 21st marks the beginning of the Tenth Annual Spring Yoga Challenge at Shree.
The Spring Yoga Challenge is effectively a commitment to oneself to complete 21 classes in 30 days. Over the past ten years we have offered the Spring Yoga Challenge as an opportunity to deeply commit to one’s yoga practice, to superficially get one’s body ready for summer swimsuits, and to invite those who may want a little more “spring” in their step to up the ante on their wellness practices. But these are not the greatest of treasure garnered in this commitment, the greatest gem of taking on this journey, and not necessarily completing it, is the gift and amrita (nectar) of peace.
What makes the Spring Yoga Challenge challenging is not that it requires regular physical exercise, rather it is the practice of just showing up that makes it difficult, and this difficulty increases as the days go by. This is because the practice of yoga is more than exercise. A science developed over two thousand years ago, yoga tunes all the strings of the instrument of your body; physical, energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Physical asana tones muscles and ligaments while reorganizing the optimal alignment of your skeletal structure, purifying your organs and regulating your circulatory and nervous systems. Practicing the asanas with an awareness of the breath, and then taking that awareness a step further using the techniques of pranayama (specific breath methods) tunes the thousands of nadis (energetic chords) of your body. While your mind is focused on breath and movement your bodies vayus (subtle energetic flows) become balanced and bring further equilibrium to the hemispheres of your brain. Include into these practices the more fundamental qualities of yoga, the techniques that differentiate yoga from exercise; mantra (a word or sound or phrase repeated in meditation), jappa (chanting), and an intention (a meditative focus) rooted in the expansion of your spacious heart and undying spirit all invite deeper resonance and harmony with the greater energetic essence from which all arises and all returns.
Doing one, or all of these practices once a month, once a week, or even once in a lifetime is difficult for many people. Hurdling the psychological limitations that keep one from walking through the door of a yoga studio is a daily event for many. Laying out a mat at home is now well known to be good for us but staying on it requires the same kind of courage and determination it takes to get to class, or climb a mountain. And neither summiting a mountain, nor getting to class, nor staying with a home practice comes with ease. Yet all of these goals have unlimited value in teaching us some of the most incredible resource we each have at our ready when we need to use them – courage, determination, will, and fortitude; all qualities that make our minds, bodies, and spirits more resilient and more adaptable, virtues which are necessary to experience undisturbed peace (of body, mind, and spirit) in an ever-changing world. And that is where the value of a yoga practice lies, in the access to the undisturbed peace that is our inherent state. Anyone who has practiced once knows that while it may have been uncomfortable and challenging at some point there was a sweet reward, perhaps only in savasana, but the sweet flavor of that amrita (nectar) is hard to forget. Because the amrita of peace is the most delectable of human life.
Over time and with commitment one may dive into a deep and regular practice, taking to their mat three, four, five, or even seven days a week. However, this is not the common approach. The common approach is doing what we have time for, and most of us fill our schedules so full there is rarely time for self-care. The Spring Yoga Challenge is an invitation to time with self for self. To take to the path, to rise to the challenge of committing to 21 classes in 30 days; relatively equaling five and a quarter classes per week.
Knowing your own busy schedule this appears to be an extraordinary feat to accomplish so why would you do it? Committing to this kind of practice is a boon for you, a journey in which will inevitably benefit from the asana practice alone and more importantly get to know yourself better on every level. The Spring Yoga Challenge invites you to learn your own personal needs for a happy healthy well-balanced life – on all planes of being – as well as how to fulfill those needs regularly. In staying the course, you are rewarded not only by Shree with 50% off your next punch pass, but also in the deeply personal knowledge of your ability to follow through on your commitment. This self-knowledge will reflect over and over in your life as more and more willingness to meet challenge and adversity with excitement; to greet challenge and adversity with the understanding of the metaphysical nature of it as a gift, the gift that is inherent in each challenge, the invitation and the path to deeper peace.
Sign up any day between March 21st and the last day of April, and for $108.00 you’ll have 30 days from that day forward to complete your 21 classes. All classes on the Shree schedule are available to you.
I look forward to seeing you in class through all the laughter, sweat, and sometimes tears.
With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,
For more on the Spring Challenge, and everything else going on at Shree Yoga Taos, please visit their site linked below.
Photographs of Genevieve and Suki at Shree, by Bill Curry
Top photo of Genevieve by Bita Ghavamini