First things first

by Suzanne L. Beenackers

It’s July! We’re practicing poses that are related to Gods, Sages and mythical creatures after who yoga poses are named. Here’s the schedule for July No sticky dolls, it’s ALL PHOTOS! Took me nearly two days to get it right, but that’s okay, because it’s my dharma. And if you want to know what what Dharma is (aside from that supercute yogateacher from Dharma and Greg), read this month’s post below and find your own Dharma.

Sources Yoga Schedule:
Heroes Saints and Sages (pdf, with poses)
Downward dogs and Warriors (book)

Blogpost July: Dharma (first things first)

“It is the dharma of the fire to burn.
It is the dharma of water to seek the deepest point.
It is the dharma of the bird to fly.”
Peter Marchand in lecture on Dharma (video) 

When I was taking my yoga education, not everybody developed a personal yoga practice. Much to my annoyance, I insist on adding. I’m pretty sure some received their diploma without even knowing what the word Sadhana meant, since it seemed to be of little importance. Our curriculum focused on turning us into good teachers, and in retrospect I agree: a daily yoga practice is of little importance to that. There are teachers who are a joy to be with, who only playfully unroll their mat on Friday night, and celebrate it after with a half a bottle of wine. And teachers who practice fiercely two hours before sunrise, yet can not even teach a dog how to bark. One may even conclude that yoga does not only have little influence on your ability as a teacher, but also offers no guarantee for any spiritual development or growth of your overall happiness. There are many enlightened, happy people, who get that way without yoga, or other spiritual practices.

One of the explanations why spiritual practice may fail to lead to happiness is connected to Dharma:  your path, your duty, that which you were sent here to do. These can be the obvious responsibilities, such as taking care of your children and of your income. But also involves taking care of your own body, developing your talents and to do the work here on earth that only you can do. Different dharma’s can be conflicting. As a rule: favour the dharma/ responsibility closes to you. First save your backyard, then the rainforest. And there is a clear order between dharma and spiritual practice. Spiritual practices, usually referred to as Sadhana, come after dharma. If 10 minutes of meditation makes you a better parent, then fine. But before you dedicate an hour a day to it, make sure this does not interfere with your other duties. Dharma comes before Sadhana.

I ll never forget how one afternoon I felt a little down, and wondered how to change my mood, in order to teach a good class at night. I wanted to do yoga (because I thought it would help) but just couldn’t make myself. I kept staring at the dishes, and my living. Coffee mugs, dirty plates, papers, books….. 24 hour of neglect and my house looked like there were three students living here. Male ones. All that was missing were half empty pizza boxes. So instead of yoga, I started clearing out the living and doing the dishes and felt reborn. “Wow! It’s that easy!” I thought. “Much more effective than yoga!”

And that’s the truth.

No spiritual practice will be even half as fulfilling as doing your Dharma, doing what you must do. You can even celebrate with some yoga and have a glass of wine after.

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