Practice with Integrity

Integrity is a word that has always resonated with me.  Wikipedia describes integrity as: A concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes, and the quality of having an intuitive sense of honesty and truthfulness in regard to the motivations for one’s actions.

Although I often miss the mark, I strive for integrity in my life, professionally and personally. I find that some areas of my life are easier to apply integrity to such as relationships. As a student of Yoga, I’ve become increasingly aware of my own integrity. This is a concept that I’ve made an effort to apply to asana in faith that it will spill over “off the mat.”

To me, practicing yoga asana with integrity means I am asking myself the following questions to engage my whole self fully in each moment of practice.

  1. Can I breathe deeply and freely? (pranayama)
  2. What am I feeling? Sensation vs. pain. (ahimsa)
  3. Is my posture aligned? (asana)
  4. Are my energy locks engaged? (bandhas)
  5. Where is my focus? (dristhi)
  6. Is my face soft?

Sometimes it is hard to remember these questions. The more one practices, the more these “questions” become about feeling and being rather than thinking. Vinyasa (flow) yoga offers a great way to develop both asana integrity and present awareness. With vinyasa, the concentration is on lengthening and deepening the breath in order to have the time to ask one’s essential questions. And since the “time” is “per breath” the mind can stay steady and focused on the present moment and movement.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  -Dr. Seuss