What Is Your Yoga?

I can’t believe it’s Monday again! Is it me or does it feel like time keeps moving faster and faster? I often find when there is a lot happening in my life at one time, I start to feel a little off and need to move inward. For me, it’s about staying connected to the ancient practice that always brings me back to a feeling of balance. 

The word yoga means “union”. For me, it is a conscious connection to something such as my body, breath, mind, spirit or environment resulting in a feeling of peace and contentment. For years, my yoga was on my mat and involved a physical practice of asana (movement) where I pushed my body into postures worthy of a magazine cover. At that time in my life, my bliss came from being in my body and I always felt a sense of calm and peace when my practice was over. My physical practice, although it has gone through adjustments over time, is still a large part of my life, but I’ve also discovered other ways of achieving that yoga experience, or connection if you will. 

My yoga is connecting to my breath. Do you ever take a moment throughout your day to simply stop, close your eyes, and truly be with your breath? If you don’t, you should try it. In fact, let’s do it right now. My guess is if you’re reading this you are in a seated position, so close your eyes, bring your awareness to the touch of breath at your nostrils, inhale to the count of four, then exhale to the count of four. Do this ten times and then open your eyes. Do you feel a little calmer? Deep breathing relaxes the central nervous system, which in turn reduces tension in the body and calms the mind. I recommend doing this when you wake up, mid-day, and before you go to bed. Trust me, it works.

By the Light of the Moon

My yoga is spending a little time in what I call sacred space. Is there someplace you like to go for a few moments of solitude? I love the beach during the off season. There are fewer tourists, the kids are back in school and it is so nice to sit and listen to the  sound of the ocean. I also love to sit on my favorite bench in a secluded church yard where I can connect with nature. It’s a lovely spot to meditate or read a book. I always tell my students to enjoy a few moments of quiet time each day, even if it is simply taking a short walk. Of course you can always create a sacred space in your yard or home. 

My yoga is disconnecting from my mobile devices. This is a big one. In fact, I could probably write an entire post on the negative impact of social media, but for now, I’ll stick with simply taking a break from it. Last week my daughter, Nicole, came for a visit, and we had a chat about how attached we are to our phones. She is a soon to be twenty year old college student who will regularly deactivate many of her social media accounts to take a break from all the noise. We spent a day at the beach and purposely left our phones in the car so we could  be completely engaged with one another and our environment. No, there weren’t selfies of us posted on Instagram, frolicking on the beach documenting our day. In fact, at one point, we realized we had no idea what time it was, and didn’t care. We had a lovely day of uninterrupted time together that will forever remain between us. We were completely in the present moment. It made me realize how much I miss that. While Nicole and I were at dinner one evening, she went to the rest room. Now, how many of you would take that opportunity to go on your phone to read the latest “fake news”, check Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or emails? We both kept our phones in our purses and while she was gone, not only did I notice the charming surroundings in the restaurant, I also saw many diners either on their phones, or saw phones sitting on the table. I often see men and women pushing strollers while they are on their phones, or they are on their phones at the park while their children play by themselves. I’ve seen someone step off a curb and fall because he was on his phone, and even though it’s illegal, people still text while driving……all the time. What is happening to us?! Now, I realize there are a lot of great things about social media, but do we need to be informed 24 hours a day? I truly feel we would all benefit from taking regular breaks to allow our brains the opportunity to power down and settle into stillness. In fact, I think it’s vital to our well being. I have cut way back, I don’t miss it, and I am happier for it. If we are always on our phones, how can we have that yoga connection with those we love or ourselves for that matter? I challenge you to curb the amount of time you spend on social media, and see how you feel. 

My yoga is living in the present moment. Let’s not dwell on the past, it’s gone. Let’s not worry about the future, it’s not here yet. Let’s fill ourselves with gratitude for today.

Have a great week ~May

“Yoga is the space where flower blossoms.”

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