Habits on & off the Yoga Mat

What can you give up?  What is no longer serving your practice or your life?  We all have habits that become a part of our daily lives.  Do your habits serve you?  Do you need to let go of something?  Your yoga practice can help you find these answers and more.

Set a long or short term intention.  My goal for 2014 was to break down the wall I have built around my heart.  I  began to notice that the practice of holding people away was keeping me from the pursuit of meaningful friendships.  I set out to change it.  

I suggest that you start out by finding the answers in your practice.  I have the tendency to round my spine and guard my heart physically.  Maybe this is your pattern, or you may begin to notice a different pattern in your physical body or breath.  Be careful to take note of these habits without judgement.  

Consider the orgin of such habits in order to work with them.  I have a very conservative background.  As a small child, I was taught that human nature without god is dark, and that we must protect ourselves with a spiritual armor.  I built an energetic fortress to guard against such problems.  I am learning to feel the subtle changes that occur when I let go of my armor.

Make changes to the habits that no longer suit you.  You didn't build these habits overnight, and they won't break down quickly.  11 months into my endeavour, I discovered that I'm still doing the back pat thing when I give someone a hug.  I also tend to move to their right, thus keeping our hearts at the furthest distance.  The simple act of pausing and sharing an honest moment with a friend or loved one was being lost on me!  I'm still practicing.   

Celebrate your victories.  Maybe you notice a change in your practice on the mat, and maybe you see a change in your daily life.  Concentrate on your progress rather than your setbacks.

Our yoga practice can be a window to our daily life.  Our tendencies in our practice often reflect our lives off the mat.  A competitive nature, guarded posture, tendency to shy away from certain poses, or breath patterns can be the window to our souls.  All we have to do is open the blinds... 

Namaste - Beth

All a Matter of Perspective

Many people who view the Yoga Rope Wall for the first time approach it as either a jungle gym or a midievil torture device.    I have observed both fear and childish excitement in my students.  I see the Yoga Rope Wall is a wonderful tool that can be used to transform your practice through support, length, and alignment, but it's all a matter of perspective.  

The Yoga Rope Wall offers length during inverted backbends.

The Yoga Rope Wall offers length during inverted backbends.

Much of our regular practice is also a matter of perspective.  One person's favorite pose is another's worst nightmare.  The "perfect" pose one day may be a source of struggle the next.  The key in yoga is to find mental and physical balance and ease, even during the difficult times.

I would like to offer the idea that the same applies to our lives.  A rain storm during your jog may be a cooling treat or something that brings sorrow and pain.  A traffic jam may offer an unavoidable moment of solitary peace, or an anxiety ridden obstruction.  Perspective changes everything.  

Every day both on and off the mat, the choice is yours.  Every moment is what you make of it. Here are a few ways to start.

1. Think of your least favorite yoga pose.  We all have one, that one that makes you want to run to child's pose every time.  

2. Observe the way your body reacts when this pose comes up in your practice (or when you think about it).  Notice if you have any unnecessary tension (maybe shoulders or jaw), and try to release it.

3.  Observe the negative thoughts that may go through your head.  Don't judge the thoughts, but acknowledge them and release them.  Don't dwell on them.

4.  Notice any changes in the patterns of your breath.  Try to return it to normal.

5. Notice if #2, 3 & 4 help to improve your experience in the pose.  If not, allow yourself to come out early without judgement.

You may have some of the same reactions during your daily life.  If you feel negatively about a certain situation or person, observe if you are having some of the same physical responses.  Try to soften your responses without judging them.  It is all a matter of perspective.  If you can change your responses in a situation, you can begin to have a whole new experience.  The choice is yours, and it's all a matter of perspective.        

Namaste - Beth