When I come to my mat, I like to enter it as I would a church, a temple, a dojo.  I enter my mat with reverence and with as much sauca, or purity, as possible.  This means clearing the mind of any distracting or negative thoughts. I often find that when I do my practice for me, it becomes very competitive. I push myself hard, and I compare myself to others to rate how well I am doing.

If I can shift that focus and do my practice as an act of gratitude to something bigger than myself – call it God, Allah, Brahman, Universal consciousness – then my intentions become pure and my practice, in turn, becomes effortless. My body becomes like an instrument through which I worship the Divine, making every breath a silent prayer, every movement an offering. 

The next time you come to your mat to begin a yoga practice, feel grateful for your healthy body, this vehicle that you have been loaned to move through this beautiful world. Recognize that everything is sacred, the earth beneath you, the sky above you. Become quiet inside, turn your attention inward, fill yourself with gratitude and experience the joy of the Divine breathing you, moving you.

From M. R. Bawa Mukaiyaddeen: “For those who have come to grow, the whole world is a garden. For those who have come to learn, the whole world is a university.  For those who have come to know God, the whole world is a prayer mat.”