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A Look at the Word “Practice”

Posted Mar 23 2010 3:23pm

I’ve been thinking about the word practice a lot lately.


When I first started, ahem, practicing yoga, it felt really strange to say “my yoga practice.” The worlds felt funny coming out of my mouth. Why not just say “do yoga?” Is that not what we are doing here? I didn’t quite get it.

Once I started thinking about the word though, and really thinking about what it means to practice something, it started to click. I started to see the practice in everything, really. That not only do I practice physically on the mat, but that there are practices in everyday situations.


Hmm, let’s see. I’ll give you an example. Take today for instance.


I woke up this morning, feeling stiff, rusty and just plain funky. My hips and hamstrings are tight beyond recognition, and a forward fold was just what I needed to work out the kinks. Well, my little forward fold turned into a 40 minute yoga practice. So in this case, it was practicing getting the kinks out and was based on how I was feeling today, not what I felt yesterday, what I felt weeks ago, and what I might feel tomorrow. Are you followin’ me?


After my yoga session, I munched on my new favorite breakfast – a sliced pink lady and a very generous spoonful of almond butter. Yum.

IMG 3669 A Look at the Word “Practice”

Fueled with a healthy breakfast (followed later some leftover vegetable stew ), and feeling fit and healthy after my yoga session, I headed to class  at my photography teachers apartment right by Notre Dame, partaking in a different kind of practice – the practice of well…balance? This one might be a stretch, but I was craving something…naughty.

IMG 3737 A Look at the Word “Practice”



The word practice came up yet again in photography class. We were practicing creative writing, not doing it. Some days the words flow, other days you struggle to pick the pen up. You don’t just sit down and do it. Each time you pick up the pen, it’s different, a reflection of your circumstances at that exact moment.  Same with taking pictures – you don’t just take them, you practice framing, and composition and all that jazz. And yoga too – you don’t just do certain poses, you practice what feels right. I think this is getting clearer now, yes?


After several adventures in creative writing, and a few technical tips on photography, my friend Jane and I left class and wandered through the 5th arrondissement, taking in the sites, and stopping for a sweet treat.

IMG 3780 A Look at the Word “Practice” IMG 3765 A Look at the Word “Practice” IMG 3767 A Look at the Word “Practice” IMG 3770 A Look at the Word “Practice” IMG 3773 A Look at the Word “Practice”

Now this, this was a practice in letting go for me. Gelato…before dinner. It’s not just something I can do easily. It’s a constant practice of letting go, relaxing, and enjoying, well, life. Because life is too short to not eat flower shaped gelato!

The practice of letting go, and enjoying the moment continued at a nearby cafe for some French onion soup, a glass of red wine, and a heart to heart with a good friend that couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

 IMG 3834 A Look at the Word “Practice” IMG 3806 A Look at the Word “Practice”  IMG 3815 A Look at the Word “Practice”

I’m not sure why, but the world practice was heavy on my mind today. Jane and I talked a lot about our experience here in Paris, and how we’ve been less than gentle with ourselves – expecting to just do things, that everything would come easily and as it normally does. But this experience is yet another practice in the grand scheme, and a huge lesson for whatever practices come our way.


We realized today, sitting in the cafe, sipping wine and devouring steaming hot soup, that it’s okay to just take the practice as it comes. Perhaps I’m talking myself in circles here and at this point, you either think I’m nutzo, or you are totally getting what I’m saying. I’m gonna hope that it’s the latter.


I think the bottom line is that everything is a series of practices – you never just do something. Every time you pick up the pen to write, or you hop on the mat for a yoga session, the experience is different – it’s a practice that relates to where you are in that exact moment. We are constantly changing and evolving, and every day the practice, the experience, is different and shaped by what has come before.


I wanted to share these thoughts, however random and far-fetched they might sound, because thinking about it in this way today made me feel a little more..hmm, how shall I put thisgentle Yah, gentle is a good word. Gentle towards myself and towards the daily ebb and flow of life. Yes, a  lot of my practices are different these days – physically, mentally, socially. It’s a different kind of practice right now. And everyday is different. This is no new thought, or novel idea, but maybe sharing my thoughts with you can help you be more gentle on yourself too – at least I hope!


Well, I’m done rambling for today. Speaking of practices – don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a year long YogaDownload subscription! There’s also a coupon code there for 35% off of your purchases through March 31, so everyone can get in on the yoga practice lovin’.


What do you think? Do you relate to the word practice in this way? What are some of your daily practices? What does the word mean to you?




Practice and all is coming.

                      – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

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