How we practice is what we practice. ~ Jessica Patterson

I teach my sons that how and why we do things are at least as important as what we do. I teach them that life is built on habits, so it’s worthwhile to create our habits mindfully.

In our yoga practices, are we tallying quantity over quality? Are we focusing on inward connection or outward expression? Are we breathing or gritting, performing or being?

How we go about this practice — of life and yoga — determines what we are practicing. Drama? Understanding? Discontentment? Patience? Judgement? Acceptance?

What are our habits? Why?

Asking those questions — What? Why? — and mindfully engaging in answering them are essential to how we live.

Without clear understanding of our whats and whys, the habits of how we function in daily life take over. And then our hows, whats and whys become rigid and forgotten rather than adaptable and empowering.

When Jessica Patterson, my teacher, says, “How we practice is what we practice,” she highlights a neutral question each of us can explore. If how we practice is leading us to what we desire practicing, then we’re on our intended path. If not … ?

If we muscle through life on autopilot — gnashing teeth, projecting emotions — what are we practicing? Muscling through without being present to ourselves and our relationships, our actions and our ripple effects.

The formula: To practice mindfulness (what), I mindfully practice mindfulness (how), because I value the benefits of living mindfully (why).

If we experience life with intention, with focus, and with self-awareness, then presence, purpose and connection become the flow of our practices.

The formula is so simple and sensible it gets overlooked without intentionally focusing on it: To practice mindfulness (what), I mindfully practice mindfulness (how), because I value the benefits of living mindfully (why).

The bottom line: Consciously identifying what we practice and why, leads us to intentionally shape our how. And with that, we are the captains of our canoes. We are engaging in life actively, rather than passively enduring and reacting.

We all are practicing something, many somethings. It’s those ingrained, deeply grooved habits we’ve honed throughout a lifetime, for better and not.

The questions are: What are we practicing, why and how?

Root Center for Yoga and Sacred Studies | Colorado SpringsI practice and teach yoga at Root Center for Yoga and Sacred Studies. Learn about other Root teachers and the full schedule of classes, retreats, workshops and other offerings at