Discipline is defined as a branch of knowledge or the practice of training people. I find this interesting as a yoga “teacher”. For a few reasons actually. One is that that while I am a teacher, I am also only a student. And honestly, the only person I am ever really training is myself.
I mean, sure, I lead classes, workshops and trainings, facilitate retreats, and enjoy mentoring and coaching people. However, at the end of the day, I am actually up-leveling my own knowledge and devotion to this practice. Not only that, but I’m constantly learning about relationships, spirituality, connection, and business just with my “work”. And this is because everything I am experiencing is a reflection of myself. Every person I am privileged enough to meet and discover, has something to share with me.
Remembering this simple fact, by the way, takes a TON of discipline.
And, to be completely transparent, the real discipline for me is when I take all that stuff I say and share on my mat, off my mat and into my own, real world. The one that is blessed with teenage girls, tasks that all hold such value and merit, creation and connection, and a devotion and commitment to daily self-care and empowerment.
So I feel like the word discipline could almost be synonymous with commitment, but with complete awareness. Meaning that if we really looked at our life and what we “want”, we have to ask ourselves, are we disciplined enough to not be distracted by every ding, ring tone, notification, and message we receive that is not on our path of teaching/learning? Can we really discern that for ourselves? And if so, how long does it take?
I use the word like this:
I am disciplined in my practice. I discipline my thoughts. I am disciplined in my desires.
More than anything though, I think it’s really important to discipline our breath. And that is the simplicity, the sacredness, the ease and practice of yoga.
Here’s the deal: if you can discipline your breath, meaning teach yourself to focus only on a rhythmic cadence of your breath, you can begin the practice of creating your life in just the way you desire.
Well, when you discipline the breath, you take a moment to focus on nothing but the breath. And in that nothingness, there are countless thoughts. And you, in that one breath, are offered the opportunity to “stick with it” or “distract”. And what’s so very important about this is that we are fed so much information in a second, in an hour, in a day… that we can’t possibly keep up with it all. Not only that but we really don’t even need it all.
And in that one breath that we take, very consciously, we are offered a nano-second to discipline our thoughts so they are more in alignment with who we are and what we desire. We can notice before we react; before we fall into a pattern; before we go down the “wrong” path.
So when I begin sharing this practice, or this discipline I like to ask:
How serious are you about your practice? What are your intentions? Are you disciplined enough to stay focused? To finish to the end? To find the joy in learning, falling, growing?
Because this discipline, this practice, this journey of yoga is not for the faint of heart. It is for those individuals ready to wake up to it all. And mostly when it gets difficult. They are the ones that sit in a pose that is uncomfortable, breathing into the tight spaces of their body so when they experience that constriction off their mat, say in relationship, they can breathe into that too. With the same grace, awareness and acceptance.
That to me is discipline.
From my book Oms From the Heart