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Happy National Yoga Month! We’re celebrating by recommitting to a daily practice and challenging you to join us. This week, yoga teachers Tyrone Beverly and Coby Kozlowski offer practices to take your yoga more than pose deep. Infuse your asana with empowering affirmations and your life off the mat with yogic principles for authentic transformation.
Week 4 Daily Practice Plan
In the final week of our Daily Practice Challenge, we’re upping the ante by asking you to take your commitment to yoga both on and off the mat. Practice Tyrone Beverly’s Meaningful Movement asana sequence daily (or as often as you like) in this final week, while following Coby Kozlowski’s living-yoga plan for Meaningful Action in the rest of your life.
Meaningful Movement with Tyrone Beverly
In this poetic flow, you’ll infuse each asana with an empowering affirmation to more fully embody the qualities of the pose both physically and mentally. Practiced repeatedly, this sequence may repattern your mind, body, and spirit to let go of fear and uncertainty and embrace strength.
Meaningful Action with Coby Kozlowski
You can be inspired by others, but at the end of the day you have to walk your own path. The Buddha called it “right action.” Ancient Indian textscall it “skillfulness in action.” I define meaningful action, or living yoga, as committing acts that make you feel more alive. Not acts that make you a “good person,” but acts that come out of you being authentically you, of you engaging with the world and lining up your intentions with what you do. Meaningful action is going to look vastly different for everyone and shift based on the season of your life. Remember, yoga isn’t in the business of offering answers. It offers questions, inquiries, and experiments that give you the chance to discover what’s going to serve you and consequently serve the world. As you embark on this voyage of living yoga, put yourself into your own experiments, stay open, gather data, and find your own integral truth.
Day 1: Align Yourself with Nature
When we turn to the brilliance of the natural world, we are invited to trust nature and as a result trust life. We can start to see the patterns and cycles that allow life to tick and function, and how we can better mirror and align ourselves with what nature is already doing. If you watch a tree for a year, you will witness the majesty of its change. We are nature. We go through these same rhythms and seasons in all parts of our being. Nature doesn’t resist change and it is able to ride the waves of each new phase of its existence. In the same way what we can learn is how to engage with the intelligence of each season in our own personal lives. We can’t predict what is going to happen, but we can take responsibility for how we show up, how we prepare for it, or how we sit with it. The reality is that each particular season isn’t going to go faster just because we want it to, but we can be well equipped to navigate what is present.
Every season has something to teach us. Spring is all about new beginnings, planting new seeds. Summer is a time of flourishing, thriving, and abundance. Fall is a time of letting go and transformation. Winter is a time to slow down, rest, and marinate in the fertile void. Use this exercise to take an inventory of your current life. If living yoga is about skillful engagement, the work here is determining first, what season you are in, and second, what small shift you could make to “tend” to it? For example, if you are experiencing heartbreak, you might consider yourself in the fall season in the relationship category, and the small shift you could make may be to reach out to your closest friends, spend time in nature, or simply give yourself permission to feel sadness.
For each of the following categories—and feel free to add your own—ask yourself: (1) What season are you in? and (2) What is one small shift you could make to support yourself while in this season?
- Spiritual growth
Day 2: Do a Digital Detox
Technology is amazing, and the progress it has provided us as a species is phenomenal. But with technology so integrated into our lives, it is important to remember balance. Many have lost this equilibrium and find themselves spending way too many hours in front of a screen. The consequences are slowly being revealed from sleep disturbances, isolation and depression, eye problems, to a general low-energy brain fog. For these reasons, and the fact that the human body is designed to be out and about in the world, it is important to reset with a digital detox. How do you know you need one? Monitor the number of hours you are on a computer daily, how many times you check your phone, and how often you are in front of your TV.
A detox could start small like the first two hours and last two hours of every day. You can build to half a day, full day, and then a whole weekend. You can also set a consistent day of the week that is tech-free. If you engage in a longer detox, let family and friends know you will be going offline so they are not worried! Plan what you will do during your detox (cook, take slow joyful walks, spend time with friends, camp, hike, nap, journal, nothing, make music, etc.). At the end of your time, journal or simply take note of how you feel and what has shifted.
Day 3: Marry Yourself
In our culture we so often look outside of ourselves for approval and love. What would shift if you took time to fall in love with yourself, to celebrate the company you keep on a daily basis, to honor the qualities that you cherish about being you? Take time to create a ceremony to marry yourself!
- What is the vow or vows you want to make for yourself?
- Buy yourself a ring or find some other symbol or way to represent committing to yourself (it doesn’t need to cost anything).
- Contemplate what promises you are going to make to yourself.
- Get creative as you create your special day. Will you have flowers? Is there a special location you want to choose? Will you invite other people or be by yourself? Will there be music?
Day 4: Explore What’s in the Mirror
We all need to feel “seen.” But sometimes the person we need to see us is through the mirror. In this exercise, take the time to really see yourself. Carve out at least 2 hours of free alone time. Then sit or stand in front of a full-length mirror. The goal here is to look at yourself and not to leave until you see yourself as whole, complete and perfect.
- As you look at your physical appearance, see beyond just the physicality, look at your eyes, look deeper within.
- For this moment in time, see the perfection that is in front of you. Yes, we all evolve and have rough edges to smooth out, but for now simply see and be with the beauty radiating out of you.
- Can you see yourself as a newborn baby?
- If your mind begins hijacking your experience, how can you be there for yourself? What boundaries do you need to create for your mind?
- Notice if you are putting your attention on things you don’t love about yourself. Stay there, feel it fully, welcome the thoughts. Eventually hold the boundary and shift the focus back to honoring your beauty.
- Stay staring at yourself until you are swollen with love for who you are—who you really are.
Note that this could take some time, honor the process, stay with any intensity that arises.
Day 5: Cultivate Kind Thoughts
Often we look at other people and pass quick life-depleting judgments. Both yoga and Buddhism, however, promote the practice of lovingkindness, called maitri or metta, respectively. The practice is a way around comparison, jealousy, and envy, which distract us from our contentment with what is. Here’s one way to try it:
Dedicate a minimum of 20 minutes (use a timer). Sit or walk in a busy space where you are guaranteed to see many people walking by. Every time a person walks by you look at them and think something kind about them. It might be appreciating their smile, something they are wearing, a feeling you get of their kindness or sweetness, a hit you get from their posture, way they are moving, or something you hear them say to another person. Or you may just send them a kind thought wishing them peace or well-being. Without judgment of yourself, observe if your mind wants to head in a judgmental or negative direction. If so, pause and focus on generous thoughts instead.
Day 6: Find Forgiveness
Many people hold on to what others have done to them and are unable to let it go. An inability to forgive it will often be accompanied by a brewing inner toxicity. Therapy can be useful, but at times it can just reinforce the story we have created. What would it look like to let go? What would it be like to live in a present moment that is free of the hurts of the past? Or how can you compost the past and turn it into fuel for the future?
- If you are holding on to something you have done, take time to write a letter forgiving yourself. If there is someone else involved who you are able to reach out to and say sorry to in order to facilitate your letting go, get in touch with them or write them an apology. They may not forgive you, but you can own your part.
- If you are holding on to something that someone else has done to you, write a letter forgiving them.
Notice what happens when you forgive, and if it creeps back in, take a breath, and forgive again.
Day 7: Send Love-ly Letters
Marrying metta (see Day 5) with gratitude makes for a powerful mindfulness practice. By acknowledging what you appreciate about the people around you, you can deepen your connection to them and the broader context of your life.
Pick five people in your life and compose handwritten letters for each of them telling them the reasons you love and appreciate them. Be specific, focus on qualities you adore about them. Use pretty paper and mail them their letters the old-fashioned way.
Day 8: Communicate Consciously
Communication is a huge skill of being human and can either make our relationships with others more easeful or more challenging. While there are many communication models out in the world the following concept will provide an experiment to begin your inquiry into more effective communication.
“I” statements invite us to self-disclose (which requires vulnerability) in a way that owns our personal experience or point of view. The alternative, “You” Statements, can fuel conflict or project an experience onto another person when in fact it isn’t really their experience at all. For example: “You know when you get really nervous in new social situations.” How would this statement shift if it were owned more fully? “I get really nervous in social situations.” Notice the vulnerability, clarity, and ownership present in the “I” Statement.
“You” Statements are not the only ways to avoid utilizing clear communication. “We” Statements like “We really should get going now” and questions like “Is that really where you want to go?” work similarly. What is really being communicated here? What is under the surface and how could it be communicated with more clarity? “I feel tired and would love to head back home.” And “I really don’t like the food here. Can we go to the cafe around the corner?”
- Notice how often you and those around you use “You” Statements (or other substitutes) when an “I” Statement would be more fitting.
- For one day shift to using more “I” Statements and notice any obvious or subtle shifts in your own feeling and in how others receive your communication.
Day 9: Meet Your Inner Child
As a child there were probably pockets of time in your upbringing were you experienced hurts, wounds, and impressions that keep you stuck today. Spend some time with your own inner child.
- Grab a picture of yourself as a child. Focus attention on your picture, imagine that being you once where.
- Sitting here with your inner child:
What would you want to say to them?
What would they say to you?
What would it feel like to look into your inner child’s eyes?
What would you promise them?
What would break their heart if you didn’t do for them?
About Tyrone Beverly
Denver-based Yoga teacher Tyrone Beverly is the Founder and Executive Director of Im’Unique, a nonprofit uniting communities and fostering healthy lifestyles within them through holistic wellness education. A leading advocate for inclusivity and diversity in yoga, Beverly is passionately dedicated to equality, humans rights, unity, and physical and social health. Learn more on imunique.org and Facebook.
About Coby Kozlowski
Coby Kozlowski, MA, E-RYT, a faculty member for the Kripalu School of Yoga, has been featured on the cover of Yoga Journal and Mantra Yoga + Health, and was named “one of the seven yoga teachers who have changed the practice of yoga.” Her vibrant style as a life coach trainer; yoga, dance, and meditation educator; inspirational speaker; and transformative leadership expert is infused with intelligence and heartfelt humor. Coby is the founder of Karma Yoga Leadership Intensive: A One Degree Revolution, Souluna Life Coach Certification, the evolutionary program Quarter-Life Calling: Creating an Extraordinary Life in Your 20s and is a trainer for Radiance Sutras Meditation Teacher Training. Learn more at cobyk.com