On the close of practice

How I close my yoga practice

I don’t ‘om.’ It’s not that I have anything against it; it’s just not part of my secular world view or self-practice. I also don’t say ‘namaste’ – I’m from Florida and grew up saying “hi,” “bye,” and “thank you”, and for me it just doesn’t seem genuine (to me! for other teachers of course it can come from their heart and soul) to adopt someone else’s greeting. But I do treat the close of practice pretty seriously and over the years have refined how I close the practice for myself and for my students in class.  This is where it stands lately.

Yoga Class closing

Remembering Why

Post-savasana, I check in and remember why I’m practicing and ask you the same. Everyone has their own reasons, and I make sure I don’t steal a unique experience from someone by saying it has to be about one thing or another. But, whatever brought you to the mat, and whatever happened while you were there, I ask you to honour it and breathe into it. And when we bring attention back to our intention and confront the reality of what’s going on, sometimes we can get disappointed in ourselves or lose sight of what’s important. In that light, I ask you to give yourself whatever kindness or gentle reminders and assurances you need to stay committed to you practice when the going gets tough. You give friends and children kind support when they need it; so give it to yourself as well.

The Supportive Breath and Letting Go

We’ve practiced for an hour or so together as a group, so one last time, we support each other in staying committed to our practice by breathing together. Inhaling we feel the power and support of the room, as we exhale we feel the ability to let go of whatever isn’t serving us.  The support of the group can be a huge influence in the ability of your practice to proceed. The letting go of breath out of the mouth also signals an end to all rhythms, movements, and fires we have sent through the body in the flow of the practice, and lets us know that we have finished, we are here, and we are now ready to move on with our day.

Commitment and Surrender

We bow down and commit to staying disciplined in our practice and the prioritising of our self-care. We surrender to where the practice may take us.  Sometimes it’s lovely, sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it demands tough short-term choices to live a better life in the long-term.  But we honour the wisdom we accrue and work with it and not stubbornly against it.

Namaste in deed

I don’t say namaste, but I look around the room as we close and bow to each student and try to enact its true meaning of honouring another. I look at each individual and acknowledge them and do my best to never give up on anyone. I hope that throughout each class and period of committed practice, I can find ways to spark the deepening of their self-practice and inquiry. As students, we can do the same by acknowledging the community, fellowship, and support of everyone else in the room. In acknowledging each other and the journeys we go through, we also keep our challenges and setbacks in perspective. We’re all in this together. No one is alone.We breathe together, we practice together, and we support each other in our journeys of awakening.