handOn Monday, March 3, I began my 2014 40-day Sadhana. The term “sadhana” means spiritual exertion towards an intended goal and often involves yoga practices such as asana, meditation, mantra and more.

Yoga Bhajan offers the following: “What is sadhana? It’s a committed prayer. It is something which you want to do, have to do, and which is being done by you. … Sadhana is self-enrichment. It is not something which is done to please somebody or to gain something. Sadhana is a personal process in which you bring out your best.”

This year my sadhana coincides with the Christian tradition of Lent. This 40-day observance is a time for spring cleaning our lives as well as our homes. During Lent, it is traditional to give something up and to practice self-discipline.

For the next 40 days, I have chosen to give up television. This winter, I discovered Net Flix. This has increased my time in front of the TV to my physical and mental detriment. Time to give it up!

I will also commit to the Lenten tradition of fasting and abstinence from meat. This is not much of a hardship since I typically eat a plant-based diet. During Lent, the tradition is to have one regular meal and two smaller meals a day with no meat and no snacking. My typical meal plan looks something like this:
Breakfast – toast or oatmeal with fruit
Lunch – green smoothie
Dinner – regular meal such as Dal with rice and greens

Part of my observance is also spending time each day studying. I am beginning with the Yoga Sutras and contemplating Abhyasana and Vairagya. Abhyasana is consistent practice over a long period of time that leads towards steady tranquility. Vairagya is learning to let go of the many attachments, aversions, fears, and false identities that cloud the true Self. Both are necessary on our journey towards the truth of who we are.

For my asana practice, I am following the guidance of Iyengar Yoga teacher Marlene Mawhinney in her 40 Day Sadhana Manual which she published in 1987.

For each of the next 40 days, I will post my asana practice and sometimes include some reflections on where my journey is taking me. You are welcome to join me on this 40-day journey of self-discipline and reflection. Let me know where your journey is taking you!

Namaste,
Nora

DAY 1
20 Min: Meditation – formal seated practice
30 Min: Cardio – riding my stationary bike
60 Min: Asana
60 Min: Study of Yoga Sutras 1.1-1.4

ASANA PRACTICE:

Opening Sequence (20 Minutes)
5 Min: Supta Virasana (reclining hero pose) – or you can do Virasana, sitting between heels
1 Min: Uttanasana (standing forward fold)
1 Min/Side: Hanumanasana (splits) – any hamstring stretch is good
1 Min: Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog)
1 Min: Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Hand Stand) – I’m working on balance
1 Min: Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance) – I’m working on staying up and balanced for 1 Min.
5 Min: Sirsasana 1 (Headstand 1)

Core Strengthening Sequence (10 Minutes)
Adho Mukha Svanasana
10 X: Plank to Chatturanga Dandasana (push ups!)
Adho Mukha Svanasana – jump through to Uttanasana
10 X: Straight sit-ups – knees bent, head and neck supported, go slow!
10 X: Alternating sit-ups – to each side, go slow!
10 X: Urdhva Prasarita Padasana – lie on back, arms on floor above head, legs point up – raise and lower legs 10 times.
10 breaths: Dandasana
10 breaths: Ardha Navasana – (half boat pose) – knees bent
10 breaths: Navasana (boat pose) straight legs, holding backs of knees
10 breaths: Navasana with arms level with ground
10 breaths: Navasana with hands behind head

Standing Sequence (15 Minutes)
1 Min/side: Utthita Trikonasana (triangle)
1 Min/side: Utthita Parsvakonasana (extended side angle)
1 Min/side: Virabhadrasana 1 (warrior 1)
1 Min/side: Virabhadrasana 2 (warrior 2)
1 Min: Prasarita Padottanasana (wide leg standing forward bend) with hands below shoulders
1 Min: Prasarita Padottanasana (wide leg standing forward bend) with forearms on floor
1 Min: Prasarita Padottanasana (wide leg standing forward bend) with hands shoulder width between feet
1 Min: Uttanasana (standing forward fold)

Closing Sequence (15 Minutes)
1 Min: Halasana (Plough)
7 Min: Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) with leg variations
2 Min: Halasana
5 Min: Savasana!