I found yoga in my early 20s when I wasn’t entirely sure what my next chapter would read. Fast forward about 10 years and yoga has continued to be a daily dose of meditation, movement, and meaning. It is my ultimate form of health, wellness, and prayer.
I tell my students this: if all you do is breathe in this room until class is over, you will feel better than when you arrived. Of course, they all move the entire hour. The safety of the mat underneath our feet allows us to be on a closed course, experiencing emotions, and self inquiring on how we react in certain situations, specifically stressful ones. It is all useful. Every single minute of it.
Yoga in its simplest definition is a union. It is a link between the divine and you, using breathing techniques, shapes or asanas and movements through transitions to build physical and mental strength. Yoga comes from the word yoke which means connection. I found myself in my first yoga class to do just this. I wanted to heal something..anxiety and a chattering mind full of “what if’s.”
I once had a friend who told me the best way out was through. But ouch. Sometimes, actually most times I don’t want to feel it. The bad emotions. Fear. Anger. Anxiety. Panic. Doubt. But she was right. You have to feel it to heal it. Whatever it is for you. Big or small, here are some simple yoga 101 tips to try right now.
It’s not intimidating and we are a community waiting for YOU. I promise. Come to a class. I’d love to see you!
In yoga, we get through difficult asanas or poses by linking the pose with a breath. Doubt and instability will show up every time you practice. It’s only human.
Thoughts I’ve had in yoga:
“Did my foot just fall asleep?”
“I really need to pee.”
“Did someone just toot?”
“My body doesn’t bend that way.”
“What did I need from the store again?”
And on and on. Successfully navigating these moments requires a strong body but also a belief in yourself, or a strong mind. This all takes practice.
Things you can do at home:
Walk proud. Stand tall. Breathe big.
I challenge you to:
Find your strength by engaging your core. Our middle bandha or energy lock is called uddiyana Bandha. As you pull your belly button to your spine, the chest lifts and your spine finds its proper alignment. You may even be a full inch taller with proper posture. (This is something I worked hard for after breastfeeding because of the toll it takes on your upper back.) Your moving meditation today becomes your posture and moving from your center.
What is core?
Core is more than just muscles that surround the abdominal walls and back. It is who you are, what you believe, what you stand for, and how you live. Yoga and mindfulness can help you find stability and a sense of being rooted and tethered. It can also help you find your true self.
When you don’t know what to do—pause.
I do this often with my children. They’re the sweetest souls that take my breath away and also make me want to run. Fast. When I have to dig deep for patience, I am constantly practicing the pause.
We experience emotions for about 30 seconds at a time. Funny enough, anything after that 30 second is me choosing to stay in that emotion. Physiologically, my body is done with the chemical reaction anger, stress, fear made inside me. When you give yourself pause to feel the emotion fully, you are able to let it go. Not because you necessarily want to, but because you can.
Practice the pause as you experience any reactions today. Sit with it for about half a minute, then let it go.
We forget how to breathe all the time. We get into fight or flight mode constantly and start breathing without our belly. How do you counter something that comes on so quickly and can be overwhelming?
Find a comfortable supine position.
Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart.
Take a deep inhale through the nose. Imagine your belly is a balloon. It’s filling up and to the side and in the nooks and crannies of the abdomen that don’t usually see much light.
Follow that breath in an upward direction, moving through the diaphragm, lungs, heart, throat, face, to the top of your head.
Pause. This pause is so gentle that it wouldn’t ever cause any uncomfortable feelings or the pressure of breath retention. It is light and easy.
Exhale back the way you came. Steady and slow. We start from the crown of our head and work our breath back down and out of the base of the belly.
Repeat for about 10 deep diaphragmatic breaths.