Yoga is so much more than just our physical asana (posture) practice. When most people think of yoga they think about the body and making shapes or they just think it means stretching. But it’s So Much More!
I shared in my last post about how last year I was pushing my asana practice for the sake of impressive Instagram posts and how unfulfilling that was. And now that I have a stronger spiritual practice and not as much asana I feel much more grounded and balanced.
Yoga is about wearing your heart on your sleeve and keeping your mind and heart open to the new. Yoga is connection, yoga is listening, yoga is love and kindness. Yoga is being thoughtful and honest to yourself and everyone around you. Yoga is finding calm and peace. I believe it’s incredibly hard to achieve all these things only by using the physical practice therefore I have began to integrate simple practices into my everyday life to help calm the mind and find some peace as I navigate through my busy days.
I’m sharing only 2 for now but there will be more to come in the future!
1.Find Stillness – Stillness, mindfulness, awareness whatever you wanna call it. I’m not even saying meditate. You don’t need a 15 minute block of time to find stillness and calm the mind (although if you do have an extra 15-30 minutes meditation is an amazing practice). But really all you need to begin a mindfulness practice is the moment that you’re in right now. First put your phone down. Then take a deep breath. Feel the air entering through your nose, filling your lungs and belly and then softly exhale. You can close your eyes or gaze softly at any point. I like to look out the window finding a tree, bird, or flower. Something natural. In the time it takes to take this breath let the mind relax. Let go of thoughts and plans, concern and worry just for a second and be with the breath. You will experience an immediate and overwhelming sense of calm. Enjoy it because it won’t last forever. But the more often you practice this breath and this moment to yourself the longer the feeling will last. This is what living in the present moment feels like and I got to say it feels damn good! Now that I have made this a habit its starting to come naturally, without thought. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or stressed even joyful or excited I simply breath and let go. Letting the moment be just as it.
2.Positive Self Talk – Becoming aware of that voice inside of our heads is so important. Unfortunately the voice we hear is most times negative, telling us to do better, that we’re not good enough and judging people and situations negatively. This is normal. We all hate ourselves sometimes because of this nasty voice which sucks! But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I believe the first step to changing the tone of our inner monologue is to simply just hear it without judgment and without trying to change it. Just listen. We can learn so much from listening. Notice what kinds of things the voice says, its tone of voice and when it happens most often. Remember that THIS VOICE ISNT YOU! You are not your negative thoughts.
Now that you have a grasp of what, when and how your inner monologue makes you feel you can begin to use your awareness practice to change the negativity into something positive. So the next time you feel like you failed instead of letting regret and shame overwhelm you take the time to stop, breath deeply and say to yourself “I am enough” or “even though it didn’t work out I am proud of myself for trying” something of the sort. The constant reinforcement of positivity really begins to change the voice over time. It’s like training a dog with treats. The more treats a puppy gets for being a good boy the more he will be a good boy because he knows he will get lots of pets and love and treats if he is. For us the treat is the positive thought instead of the negative. We will therefore begin to feel better about ourselves (like the good boys and girls we are) and then we can actually start to give ourselves the love and kindness we deserve.
You can also use this principle when observing a situation that you’re not directly involved in. Say you’re watching some competition show like American Idol (is this even still a show?) anyway someone goes to sing and they’re really trying and they believe they’re great but actually they sound like a bunch of alley cats fighting over the left over fish bones in the trash… instead of feeling embarrassed and ashamed for this person you can send some kind, loving thoughts. Just putting positive thoughts out into the universe can change everything. Slowly but surely.
In summary: take some time out of your day to look inward and just breath. Allow yourself to let go even just for a second. And take some time to listen to yourself. What are you telling yourself. If it’s not nice then be nicer! Be as nice to yourself as you would be to your best friend. If we all did this the world would be a much happier place.