Guest Article: Liz Heffernan on Practice

So happy to share with all of you this simple offering on the gifts of a dedicated personal yoga practice from one of our most experienced teachers at the studio, Liz Heffernan.  I resonate so strongly with her simple message-- it is the showing up, the simplicity of continuing to try to choose to practice in a way which truly makes you feel better, even when it is difficult--that is a simple gift which bears incredible fruit.  Our community is here to encourage you to keep showing up. 

Come see Liz in her regular classes on Tuesday mornings at 9am for Align and Flow and at a 4:30 Wednesdays and Fridays for a mindful Vinyasa class.  Teaching Yoga? You can dive deeper with Liz in the physical adjustments for teachers workshop on Sep 30 and Oct 7.  

In Gratitude for Practice 

By Liz Heffernan

When I first started dedicating myself to my personal yoga practice, my teacher’s words were a constant companion “Practice and All is Coming.”  There was a lot then I didn’t understand about Yoga, I was clueless to its philosophy and depth, but I did know there was a promise of something more.  I was seeking and after stumbling through many corridors of poor choices, Yoga seemed the only path that made any sense. 


I put a lot of faith into those words of Pattabhi Jois and just kept showing up to my personal practice. The shape and form of my Yoga practice shifted and changed with the decades, it was adjusted for injury and health, modified through two pregnancies and while managing the heavy load of parenting, a full time job, and part time teaching career.  Yet my practice remained constant.  Often I had to fight through layers of resistance and the weight of daily responsibilities. Sometimes I just didn’t make it. Then, the practice became compassionate self-acceptance for what is, as opposed to self-depreciating insults which were my more natural tendency.  In spite of it all, I just keep showing up to take a dedicated breath, move my body, free my mind, and practice the art of being present with myself.  The simplicity of the words “Practice All is Coming” created a deep resonance, an echo that held the promise that if I just showed up consistently each day, the “All” would be unveiled.
 
I am immensely grateful for these words and this teaching. Sometimes the simplest teaching can leave the biggest imprint. Had I known then, what is clear to me now, after two decades of showing up, I literally would have sprinted to my mat every day. 

Daily practice gave me the tools to explore my inner landscape, it provided moments of respite from both self-created and external stressors, and opened a doorway into the sublime states of peace and ease within my own self.  The more time that passes the more I am able to shed belief patterns and dissolve the barriers of self-judgment and limitation that cloud my perceptions. The fruits of my practice have helped me navigate through life’s challenges with more tenderness and grace, it has helped me to unveil a deep connection to my own authenticity and access more heart-filled moments than I could have ever hoped for.  I wouldn’t change my path or life experiences, as the contrast from then to now is profound. Daily practice was the catapult from living with an inner world consumed by struggle, self-coercion and belittlement to the lived experience of joy and wonder..... And it was worth very single Surya Namaskar (sun salutation), Utkatasana (chair pose), every moment in meditation, and every ujjayi breath.
 
In this moment of reflection, I am in deep gratitude for the practice of Yoga, for the simplicity of the teaching “Practice and All is Coming”, for Pattabhi Jois and for the myriad of teachers from all traditions who have shared their path and practices with me.  To all of this, I bow.  Namaste.

About the Author

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Liz Heffernan, is a dedicated Yoga practitioner first and a teacher second.  You can find her teaching classes at Om Shala Yoga: Tuesdays at 9:00am and Wednesday and Fridays at 4:30pm.  She is also one of the lead instructors in the Om Shala Yoga Teacher Training program beginning on November 9. Her complete bio can be found here: http://somayogainstitute.com/liz-heffernan.html