Take a Hike n’ YogaAugust 1, 2012
36 Hours of Mindful Solitude in NatureAugust 31, 2012
There are many things that can be practiced while on the mat. Mindfulness is a good place to start. Since you are moving your body and finding postures to stretch and strengthen, without mindfulness, you may be causing more harm than good. The act of paying attention to exactly what you are doing is what will bring the most benefit from any action. Also, without paying attention, you may be reinforcing mental habits (or ruts) that are not beneficial. For example, getting frustrated or criticizing yourself. Notice where your mind goes while your body is on the mat and come back as many times as needed. Be gentle with yourself.
Practice what you want to reinforce
Once you notice what you’re practicing. Decide if it’s what you want to see more of in your life. If anger and criticism are what you want to see more of, go ahead and let that be part of your practice. If you want to practice compassion or kindness, try it out on the mat. Besides mindfulness, Ahimsa, is another good place to start. If you need some more patience in your life, try that on. More calm, breath, courage, acceptance? Set your intention. Whatever your heart desires for you.
Within the postures
If yoga postures are causing you more suffering or pain, there’s a good chance you are practicing these things in some way. If you walk away from your mat and wonder why certain parts are sore, there’s probably some more mindfulness to be practiced or balance to be brought in. Sore wrists? Make sure your fingers are taking their share of weight and that you’re mindful of how you place your hands. Sore neck or shoulders? Notice if you’re practicing holding tension in them on and off the mat. Do you lead with your chin or let your head fall back? Do you let your shoulders crowd your ears or forget to keep them back during Chaturanga for instance? Do you clench your jaw, furrow your brow or hold tension any where else while practicing? Notice what you do with these body parts off the mat as well. Are you on the computer a lot without being mindful of how you hold your arms and shoulders? Notice how you’re sitting right now. Do you sit hunched over for long periods? Move gently as often as you can. Bodies are made for movement. Your yoga practice is a chance to balance out the constriction in your life. Practice freedom.
Your life is your practice
Your practice does not end when you roll up your mat. You could think of every position you are in during the day as a yoga posture. Place your body and your mind in such a way that is beneficial to you. Then when you step back on your mat, it’s like you never left. Your practice advances by what you put into it; not by what crazy posture you can get yourself into next. When you’re present while you practice, you may see what you’ve been practicing all these years to bring you to where you are now. What you learn about yourself, you get to take with you. How you see it is another practice. Please don’t leave it behind. Oh, and remember your water bottle too.
I’m here to support your practice.