from the ground up
It is important to remember to establish a solid connection with the ground right away. Give the weight of your body to the ground through whatever part is touching the ground. It will feel like a release moving through your body toward the ground. You become heavy and well-anchored. Observe how the ground supports you. Do not rush through this part. Give your full attention to releasing your weight to the ground in every pose. By doing so, you discover lightness, freedom, and a sense of “undoing” in the body.
The breath will feel different in every pose. Allow it to be effortless and completely natural. Watch it. Notice what happens on the inhalation… and notice what happens on the exhalation, particularly the end of the exhalation. Give yourself permission to slow down and pay attention… because there is always something happening.
Your spine responds well to gravity, your breath, and ease. Release all of your breath, drop the weight down and notice how the spine grows tall! It receives the rebound energy from the ground.
Move your spine a lot. Create as much space as you can through the spine, gently. Rotation, side bends, forward bends, back bends… and let the spine play…. Moving in spirals and figure 8 patterns. Your spine will enjoy this. We are only as young as the spine is flexible.
Let go of the unnecessary tension. When the body is rigid during Yoga practice, it becomes difficult to breathe and it prevents us from moving more deeply into the pose. Start the pose where it feels completely easy and allow the pose to come to life and deepen naturally. Be kind to your body and it will respond beautifully. Allow your body to move with ease…. like flowing water. Fluid… smooth… and effortless. Never use force. Every movement should feel natural. Every movement should feel GOOD. Give your body permission to feel the joy of the pose.
When we become disconnected from the flow of life… and the feeling of ease, it is time to slow down and find silence. Move inside and tune in to the pulsing fluidity and effortless life force that we call BREATH. Notice the expanding and releasing; the lightness and heaviness. This is the RHYTHMIC BODY. Surrender and allow it to heal you. Allow it to bring you home.
Do not fear vulnerability. It allows us to open up… to become exposed… to feel what is happening…. moment to moment. And this brings about a great sensitivity to who/what we are… and the world around us. Feeling vulnerable allows us to learn to speak our truth and be ourselves… and feel alive.
A Yoga pose should not feel complicated or mechanical. Allow the pose to emerge using gravity and your breath. Take your time. Yoga is rhythmic, soft, and full of grace. Keep it simple.
We all come to our Yoga practice with “baggage.” From time to time certain emotions and/or thoughts will surface. Allow yourself to be the observer as the emotions/thoughts present themselves. Do not judge what is happening. Allow it all to unfold in front of you.
When you enter your yoga space, leave your expectations at the door. Your Yoga will look and feel different every day, thus allowing you to create your practice anew each day. There is absolutely no obligation for you to “achieve” anything while you are in this space. Spend as much or as little time practicing Yoga as you feel is right for you. And finally, do not “time” your asana practice. The amount of time you spend on your mat is not predictive of the benefits you receive from your practice. Let go of the idea that a longer practice is better.
There is so much going on in every pose. Pay attention to the feeling of it… even if the sensation is subtle. Observe how the breath affects the pose, and vice versa. Be aware of your own internal rhythm. Enjoy the newly created space and lightness in the body. It will begin to feel like meditation in motion. Tune in to all of it. You are the creator of this dance.
Take your mindfulness off the mat… into the world. Into real life. We all participate in many daily activities. This is the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness. A few examples of ways to practice are: while eating/cooking, while talking to a friend, while checking out at the grocery store, while gardening, while walking, etc. Become consumed by the idea of staying aware.
Practice Not Reacting
This goes right along with mindfulness. In any given situation where it involves your response, pause mindfully and give yourself time to respond appropriately. You can do this several times a day. It creates awareness and can be very helpful when responding to major life situations.
Take time every day for meditation, whether it is for one minute, ten minutes, or 20 minutes. Again, the amount of time doesn't matter. A cross-legged position is ideal, but other positions are ok too. You can also sit in a chair if it is more comfortable. Align your body, get grounded, and learn to relax. Breathe. Observe. Allow it to be simple.
"Yoga is an effortless dance with Breath & Gravity."