Have you ever wondered how holding yoga poses like Tree, Warrior, or Mountain can make your day better? Better by way of feeling more focused, calmer, happier, maybe even feel less stress and anxiety. I have even heard craziness like watching your breath, thoughts, and feelings can even ground you or connect you more to where you are. My work is to invite students to actively play in body, breath, and mind. I say play to encourage space for curiosity and excitement without the stress. Let’s try to lessen the fear factor and the messy mind coming in to dictate whether I am getting it right or wrong. Playing helps lighten the load. Let’s face it, life off the mat can be pretty dang serious.
Just this week I was asked by a yoga student “how do we take this into our lives?”
Wow – what an inquisitive and huge question! See yoga is not just about the posture, the breath, or meditation. It is about getting more connected to where you are in life, how you respond in situations, why you do what you do. Since Election Day of 2017, I have been working with this group of fine folks at the public library in a chair yoga class. On that first day, 13 beautiful souls walked in, took their seat, and stared at me with longing eyes, sheltered hearts, and a desire to find peace within this crazy world. 7 months later after working with these folks, they have developed some tools for their tool belt on how to settle into their natural state of being(peace); breathing practices, meditation techniques, and some simple movements to create space in the body.
Here was my response to the question: How do we take yoga into life?
When you are ready to start making subtle changes, to wake up to patterns and habits, it is best with an external agent. Kind of like that device everyone is wearing to encourage you to take more steps, get off your butt, and move! We all seem to have phones with alarms and timers on them. I invite you to set the alarm to go off 3 times a day. Think of it as “timing in” to where you are. It doesn’t matter when, just that you hear it. When the alarm goes off notice where you are in mind, emotions, and body. This is taking your yoga practice into your life. It seems simple but let me give you a couple scenarios so that you have something to relate to.
You are at the grocery store waiting to cash out. There is a trainee with the trainer working at the register, a line of customers, and it seems to be moving pretty slow. As the alarm goes off you feel your heart. Is it burning, hurting, anxious, or pissed? You then allow yourself to connect to the mind chatter. Are there words of hostility, impatience, sadness, encouragement, or empathy? You notice your body. Are you puffy with arms crossed in front of the heart (yes puffy), tapping your foot, teeth clenched OR do you have a gentle smile, softness in your face, and eyes gazing at the trainee with kindness? I believe most of us can relate to being the customer, trainee, and/or trainer at some point in life. The awareness is there but maybe forgotten. Our negative response creates pressure and negativity that oozes not only to the employees but also to the line of customers – be the cheerleader! With time and awareness, we begin to create shifts offering the trainee and trainer cheers of encouragement, praise, and compassion while the line goes quicker all will be happier.
You are at a coffee shop with some individuals. The alarm goes off, so you take a moment to become aware of the emotions, mind, and body experience. Are you feeling exhausted, wasted, angry OR are you content, happy, at peace? Is the mind chatter analyzing and critiquing all that is being shared as negative garbage OR are you connecting with who is in front of you with an abundance of positivity? Are you sitting up tall, heart open, eyes are soft OR are you slouching, shallow breath, face muscles are strained with teeth clenched? Once you have taken note, and it will only take a moment, you will then be able to SEE where you are and who you are spending your time with. Are you being lifted up or brought down? I placed you in a coffee shop with “individuals” because in that moment of observation you will notice if you are being fed or depleted by your surroundings.
Taking your yoga practice into your life means you want to become aware, to participate, to live passionately in every situation. It doesn’t mean every moment smells like roses, but when that alarm goes off you are given a chance to adjust your reaction and response to your surroundings. Maybe you will begin to understand how silly we can be at times. Maybe you will see those in front of you with more compassion. Maybe you will see your environment with an open heart and mind. What is most exciting about this practice, with time you won’t need the alarm. A new pattern or habit will have been created. You will begin noticing your body language, reflect on your emotions, and become the witness of the mind chatter. Give yourself permission to be good with what you become aware of. Sometimes the moment will cause an eye brow to raise or a chuckle to arise.
This is powerful knowledge – choose to walk in life awake and in love every moment!
This is YOGA.