Sat Naam, and Welcome in!
You might be wondering, how important is it to “tune in”? Answer: Extremely important.
Whether you use the Gurmukhi Adi Mantra (Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo) or an invocation in English or Sanskrit is really immaterial. But whatever you do, don’t skip this part. When all you’re endeavoring to do is exercise, just taking 20 seconds to close your eyes and come into awareness is enough (and rarely is even this small moment of consciousness practiced by gym enthusiasts anyway). But when you’re entering into a yoga practice with the intention to train your body/mind/spirit to unionize, you must prepare for it.
Because your little self (as opposed to the Higher Self, or Atman) will take over every endeavor. Ego wants to control your energy, your mind, your body and your life. Place no barrier and your practice will do nothing to unionize and will become all about the old patterns of success vs. failure, effort vs. flow, and discipline vs. whining.
Another reason—taking 3-5 minutes to get your breath and mind under conscious control is important. The practice becomes a joy rather than a chore. Consciously creating space for transformation is a big part of evolution.
Another reason—if it’s all you have time to do, it’s the most beautiful part. Sit down, tune in. And if that’s all you have time for, your next 30 minutes will be your practice. Let it be so.
Another reason—habits are really good for us. When we develop good habits we introduce stability and discipline to our brain. The brain is like a puppy, it needs to be trained. So get into the habit of coming into a place where you declare that stillness, love and surrender are what is important right now. The neural pathways associated with this habit begin to grow. A narrow dirt path becomes a wide path, then a paved road, then a slide. The path will faithfully lead you to a good and beautiful place.
Another reason—I’ve practiced once or twice after forgetting to tune in. It felt jerky and inauthentic and I was in resistance. Best to stop and tune in.
One more thing. It’s easier to develop a Sadhana when you begin it with a tune in. You know how to start. And as we know, it’s the starting that is the hardest part.
So start by tuning in.