“Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are.” – Erich Schiffmann
As much as the Western world utilizes yoga for it’s physical benefits, there are also extensive mental and emotional benefits yoga can provide you. Approaching yoga in the right state of mind is the beginning of opening yourself to all these benefits. In order to find your vibe, or your ‘groove’ as some say, try a few of these yoga-practice reminders below.
Check your luggage at the door
Whether that means showing up 10 minutes early, leaving your phone in the car, or shutting it off once you step through the studio doors. Check your busy mind at the door. By removing life’s distractions, you make your mind available to listen to your body during the practice. I promise you, distractions will still come up during your practice about what you will eat after class or what client meeting you have coming up. By physically removing any distractions you can control, it will make it easier to breath into your body and listen to where you find yourself during that given practice. Whether it be self practice at home for 20 mins or a 75 min vinyasa class, devote your body and mind to the movements and breath during that short time period. Be present. Everything else will be there afterwards without a doubt.
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” -Deepak Chopra
“The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind.” – Rodney Yee
Yoga is not a competition
So many of my students are determined to hold planks longer then their yoga neighbour or get into the same advanced modification as their classmates. Unfortunately, a majority of the time, these modifications and practices are not in their best interest. Understanding the difference between challenging yourself and injuring yourself is so important. For more information, look to my previous post about Edges VS Injuries . Yoga is not about creating the best looking pose. Success is most appreciated when you see your hard work pay off. It is always about the journey and less about the final destination. Yoga allows you to make note of where your strengths lay (in the poses that you can easily get into) or where you have weakness (poses that you just can’t seem to get into). By listening to your body (because it will tell you!), you will find out where your limit is and if it is not as advanced as your partner, that is okay! Doing a full expression of a pose does not make you a better person! If you ignore the cues of your body and focus on everyone else in the room as your competition, you will not received the intended benefits of yoga.
“What you want is already here, in the unified field of pure potential. Everything you need to fulfill your greatest desire is already part of your being. But it can’t come out until you align with it, let go of the obstructions to it, and raise your vibration to the level at which it already exists.” Derek Rydall
“Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are.” Jason Crandell
Unfortunately, in today’s world, there are many parts of the day where we are simply going through the motions. Turning on a TV show while we eat, chatting on the bluetooth as we drive, bike, or walk around the city. Are we even tasting the food or aware of our surroundings? Many times in the day we separate our motions from our thoughts. Our body does one thing while our mind is elsewhere. In your yoga practice, try and stay with your body and breath. This was (and is) by far the most challenging part of yoga for me. Learning to be still in our minds can take years or even decades of practice. When going through the poses and breath work of the class, really try and connect with your body. Feel the breath enter your belly and expanding your lungs. Maybe feel the neck lengthening and crown of our head reaching to sky in seated meditations. Make note of your vertebrae ever-so-slightly separating from one another as you forward fold. Being present in your practice will give you the opportunity to feel the physical benefits and bring your attention to the mental benefits. In terms of the mental benefits, maybe in the moment of stillness your mind goes directly to an argument you had earlier with a coworker. One that you didn’t think of until this exact moment. Maybe your mind is telling you that there is a sense of unfinished business and one that you need to bring their attention to. Or maybe your mind turns to an act of kindness someone else did for you or in your presence. Making note of how it made you or the recipient feel. Yoga also allows us to explore our mind, our personalities, our values, our emotions, and our dreams. Try not to judge where your mind goes, but instead explore it. Be curious why your mind brought you there instead of pushing away your thoughts.
“Through meditation and by giving full attention to one thing at a time, we can learn to direct attention where we choose.” Eknath Easwaran
Yoga is truly a beautiful practice that can bring you a lot of clarity within yourself. Take the time to listen and be judgement free. Be just as kind to yourself as you are to others. I hope this post resonates in you as much as it did for me. I look forward to hearing if these reminders changed the outcome of your next yoga practice. Stay well everyone xo