You know that feeling you have after a yoga class. For lack of a more all-inclusive word, we often call it Bliss (or, more specifically, Yoga Bliss). It’s funny because it doesn’t really matter if it’s a gentle, restorative or vigorous class, or if you are a beginner or advanced practitioner; the result is the same and is wrapped in this blissful blanket.
The idea of taking yoga off the mat is intrinsic to this practice that encourages union in our dualistic world. That which seems in conflict is often harmony yet to be composed. While we root ourselves to the earth, connecting and grounding to one source, we float and rise to greet the divine expression of another source; these opposing actions create the space and wholeness for the harmonic, melodic symphony to play.
Thinking about yoga off the mat evokes images of service to others, showing compassion as a daily ritual and meeting challenges (great and small) with wisdom. I offer, too, that yoga off the mat includes invoking this blissful feeling on demand. On days when getting to an asana class is not in the cards or you just want to bring that bliss into your life, it is possible!
Several months ago I was driving home, craving a coffee and scone; I happened to be passing our local bakery that makes amazing scones. The problem was that their scones are enormous and my willpower, questionable. In that moment, it occurred to me that making my own scones couldn’t be that difficult and I could make them a reasonable size (even two wouldn’t equal one of the bakery’s). I went home, searched Google for a recipe, added a few extra ingredients of my own and enjoyed warm, delicious scones. And, my house smelled divine!
All I needed to enjoy this simple treat were the right ingredients. It seems to me the same is true for anything we want; we just need the right ingredients.
When imagining your recipe for bliss, start with something that creates that condition within you. For this purpose, I will be using Yoga Asana as the inspiration for this dish.
Following are the ingredients (Elements of Practice), that in proper combination (different for each person), will take you where you wish to go. You may augment this recipe according to those elements of the practice that nourish you and contribute to your overall sense of well-being. Add your own; be creative. There is room in this recipe to improvise.
[Ingredients are in Bold.]
Prep time: as long as it takes; times may vary
Bake: at least 5 minutes (though 10+ minutes will add significantly to the bliss)
Preheat your space by setting an intention and dedicating it to a greater good or higher purpose (that could include your higher self); from this point on, Ahimsa (non-harming) should be kneaded into the dough of the bliss we are baking.
Draw your attention to your breath (allow your peripheral awareness to remain active while your razor sharp attention rests on your breath). Keep the breath long, slow and even in and out through the nose. Baker’s note: You can always reconnect with your breath at any time.
Foundation: make sure you are grounded before moving on. You can close your eyes and go inside, physically feel the earth beneath you, visualize the color red around your feet or the base of your spine, whatever helps you feel grounded. Baker’s note: Like the breath, you can always reestablish foundation if you wander.
From your grounded place make the choice to be willing to let go of habits, behaviors and attitudes that do not serve you. It is important to be specific.
Add equal parts effort & ease to the activities of your day. The effort will help you progress and move forward while the ease will allow you to surrender to the moment.
Mix in the understanding that strength and flexibility are partners and should be balanced.
Cultivate a sense of gratitude.
Blend (on high) your family and community with a larger sense of connection to all beings.
Sprinkle with equal parts mindfulness, openness and LOVE.
Recall your intention, rededicate it and BAKE while in Savasana for at least 5 minutes (see above for baking time).
Option: Depending on your preference, listening to music or being in silence may increase your capacity for bliss.
Feel the Bliss and pass it on!