When I moved to Seattle four months ago, I immediately found comfort in the inviting yoga studio around the corner from my new home. Everything about the warmth and inclusivity of the studio and people drew me in, and continues to every day. I credit my sense of clarity and groundedness to my yoga practice, and wanted to take some time to share with you why. I have moments of epiphany in every class that I wish I could bottle up and share with my clients and friends. Below are some of those lessons that continue to make me better every day.
The Power of Lion's Breath
Release release release. Surrender surrender surrender. Find all the muscles in your face and RELEASE WITH AKKHHHHHHH. Ever stretch your arms in the morning and feel relieved and blissed out by it? Ya it's like that but with sound, and breathe, and facial expressions and SILLY PLAYFULNESS! Be a kid again, be an animal, and do it whenever no one is looking. :)
The Power of Heart Openers
Let your heart speak for itself. Free it from constriction and feel and watch what opens up. My favorite is a move called "Sugar Cane." Put your hand on a block or a chair, grab your foot behind you and open your chest in open space until your eyes roll to the back of your head with bliss. It's my favorite. I'm a better, happier person each and every time I do it.
The Power of Hip Openers... Hello Pigeon Pose
I look forward to this pose every class. I find it playful to struggle into it, uneasy and unsure, knowing the spot is looking for me too. The metaphorical search for finding the comfort in the discomfort sparks joy in me every time. I'm reminded of one of my favorite phrases: "The way we do something is the way we do everything." This pose gives me the opportunity to practice just that; to focus on my body and know that my mind will listen up and follow suit.
The Power of Warmth + Sweat!
Nothing lubricates my senses more than sweating it out and creating endorphins. The warmth loosens me up, it frees my mind, it reminds me that I'm human, it connects me with others, it reminds me that I'm alive with a beating heart. It literally changes the chemicals in my body. Exercise, it's the best medicine.
The Power of Intentions + Visualization
I call it "invisible work." The mental points of focus that align towards more productivity. But the best part is the simplicity! Gently think of how you'd like to be. Oh that's easy: Grounded. Oh wow, I'm seeing dirt beneath me, now all of a sudden dark sturdy redwood green trees, now all of a sudden big rocks of truth. Imagination transforms.
The Power of Gratitude
Accessing the parts of me that feel good, joyful, sparkly are fun. My eyes light up, my face softens, my heart opens. Wow, how does it do that? That was easy. Now name those many things one by one: this beautiful day, my house, the food in my fridge, my love for music, the puppy I saw 5 minutes ago, my breath, my ability to move. All of these things are hard to find on the worst of days, but when you name one, you realize there are others too. Even on the shittiest of days, you can be glad you have choice to drop into child's pose.
The Power of Silence
At the end of every class, my teachers hold long pauses for reflection and deep breathe. The word that always comes to mind in those moments is: reverence. The word means "deep respect and awe for someone or something." This is what silence and long pauses do for me. It allows me to drop into myself to take an honest look around.
The Power of Changing Perspective ... Hello Inversions
Getting upside down is everything. It shows you that "if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." Get upside down with your feet on the wall and all of a sudden, your face warms, your feet cool, the ceiling is more visible, your concerns are focused elsewhere....and all of a sudden you're THINKING DIFFERENTLY. Oh how simple, and oh how revolutionary.
The Power of Doing Before You're Ready ... Hello Every Yoga Class I've Ever Attended
Ever jump out of bed and realize 5 minutes later how glad you are that you had the courage to do it? Ya me too, every day. That's what yoga has become for me. Whenever I feel meh, I grab my mat and walk down the street. I count to 3. Taking your mind out of the equation is freeing. Yoga allows me to "leave my elf on the shelf." And by "elf" I mean Inner Critic/Monkey Mind. You don't need your mind to do yoga. You just need your body, and your heart. And once you start BEING in that class, and all the above things start happening: The Warmth, The Opening, The Gratitude, The Perspective Changing .... everything falls into place. You recalibrate, and the rest is history. Give that gift to yourself in your own way. Yoga is my way of playing with white space and activating the best of me. What's yours?