Uma Spender (previously Jessie Neave) - name in transition - new website coming soon!
practice, practice, practice
Have you ever wondered why we Yogis are so in love with the word 'practice'?
The sanskrit word sadhana translates "a means of accomplishing something", and is the term given to any practice that intends to transcend the limitations and illusions of the ego. Sadhana is what I’m doing when I stumble out of bed in the dark and move through my sun salutations - shaking off the stagnancy of sleep and the residue of yesterday. Sadhana can be anything that draws you into a dedicated space of alignment with your truth, your essential nature. For many, especially those on the Yoga Path, it’s daily asana or meditation, but these days it could be a great many things, perhaps devoting time to your garden, or observing & honouring the cycles of the moon. I know someone whose sadhana is getting their bare feet to the earth every day and someone else whose sadhana involves not gossiping or shaming anyone. It could be what you choose to eat (or not eat), or it could be the time you give to volunteer your service. Whatever it is, your sadhana is your sadhana because it makes you feel deeply connected, whole & part of something greater, and, because you do it with discipline & commitment, even when you might not feel like it.
I think of sadhana like a lightning rod that draws me right back to my centre, the powerful tool that gives a solid & real foundation to my spiritual existence. Without dedicated practice I imagine I would be floating loftily on an ethereal breeze, being blown around by ideas & philosophies with no grasp on where I fitted into it all.
The beauty of the dedicated practice we call Yoga (sanskrit for union, by the way) is that it makes you simultaneously feel individually empowered and deeply connected to everyone & everything at once, as though we were all just tiny drops of water in a larger ocean of being. Have you ever been in a packed Yoga class and felt that deep sense of perfect solitude? In times when I have let my sadhana slip (yes, it’s happened!), I feel almost immediately disconnected, separate & isolated. Imagine the sheer terror of being a single drop of water that feels separate from the vast ocean around…
The thing is, we don't do Yoga. We are Yoga. We practice sadhana to remember that from our very core - from the deep root of the heart.
One of my sadhanas for Winter has been to meditate for a few minutes every day with the intention to open to the full courage of my heart. I've been using the Abhaya Hrdaya - the mudra of the Fearless Heart. Mudra is simply translated as ‘seal’ and is most commonly done by making shapes with the hands but can also be expressed throughout the body. Mudra is linked with the pranic or energetic body and is much more than a gesture or a symbol - it’s a call to action. Since I have been doing this in a dedicated way I have felt unshakable trust in myself, and courage to bring new projects to life:
I'm totally over the moon to announce a big dream has come true - my dear friend and truly gifted Teacher, Shoshannah Orenstein, has agreed to co-host a Retreat in Thailand with me! It's at the most incredibly lush tropical island beach paradise you could only believe with your own eyes, and it's happening in October - so be quick if you're keen! This one is open to men as well as women - please see all details below & don’t hesitate to contact me with any queries.
Another pure joy for me this year has been the gentle unfolding of holding space for women only, what began as a wonderful accident has become an absolute passion. I am thrilled to be presenting some new workshops & retreats focussing on Hormone Balancing, observing & working with moon cycles & honouring the Goddess Archetypes. I've also put together a very special 1 day 'mini' Retreat in Red Hill (an hour from Melbourne) as I know so many women, like me, struggle to find the time we might like for dedicated practice. Please see more details/links below.
Here’s a little guided meditation that includes the fearless Heart Mudra as well as Viloma (1) pranayama. I hope you find it as useful as I do. Please note the Viloma pranayama is not suitable during pregnancy as it uses breath retention, so...
I've also recorded a guided birth visualisation for those of you practicing for two!
And finally, I made a short & sweet chanting sadhana for the gorgeous women who came to my Goddess Retreat in Bali last year - and I'm feeling so inspired I just had to share it aswell!
Looking forward to practicing with you soon