A recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution focused on injuries while practicing yoga.
The main reason is we push beyond our limitations because we pay attention only to our thoughts. Our body has infinite wisdom, and the practice of yoga is to stay in awareness from the inside-out. Being aware means noticing what the mind is telling you and checking in with your body.
Your body will tell you the truth and your mind will tend to judge.
At times it is difficult to know whether you are pushing too much or you are really able to go a bit further. Here are a few simple tips that will help.
- If you are comparing yourself to someone else, chances are you are overdoing it.
- If you are going further because a teacher told you to, you are not listening to your body.
- If you cannot breathe into the pose when it is painful, then back out.
- If you feel a stretch and you can breathe and relax into it, then you are okay.
- If you feel a stretch and when you take an easy breath and you cannot release and go deeper, then you should ease out a bit.
Let me know in the comments below what you noticed. Did you push beyond your limitations? If so, why do you think that happened?
When I go and exercise, I often see some who rush out right after without stretching and releasing tensions that comes with exercising. This is not healthy for your muscles. Many do not understand that lengthening back out has tremendous value.
When you work out, play golf or any other activity, your muscles are contracting and tightening, which decreases the blood flow into the muscles.
Doing some simple stretches will lengthen your muscles, allowing more blood and oxygen to move through. They will be elongated and heather.
I cannot give you stretches in a short post, but when you stretch out be mindful of this:
- Treat stretching back out as part of your workout and budget the extra time it will take into your practice.
- Direct your breath into the area that is tight.
- Have something to support you while stretching so you do not have to effort.
- Do not overstretch where you feel pain- you cannot relax into pain and you will intensify the tension.
- Stay with the stretch for a few breaths and allow the muscles stretching to release.
Let me know in the comments below how this worked. Did you find yourself being able to relax into the stretch? Did you breathe while stretching?
This phrase can change your life.
We are by nature complicated beings. This time of year we tend to over complicate our lives with plans and events. Many of us strive for the perfect experience and end of getting lost in the planning which adds stress and tension to our lives.
Rather than enjoying family and friends, we spin out of control and stress out so we can enjoy ourselves later. Later never comes because we are thinking about and planning the next event. Just writing about this is exhausting!
What can allow us to enjoy ourselves is to treat ourselves with kindness.
Take a breath, settle into your body, slow down and get centered. Just do what is in front of you, check in on how you feel and keep your focus on enjoying, rather than doing.
Less can often be more, so remind yourself of this one phrase: keep it simple, sweetie…
There are times when our lives are overwhelming and things are not going as planned. It is during this time that gratitude helps to soften what seems never ending.
The challenge is finding gratitude in the midst of frustration, fear and uncertainty.
We forget that we have had uplifting experiences in the past, no matter how minor. The sweet, small events we have had are often overshadowed by the negative.
You do not have to feel grateful to be grateful. It can be a decision and it will help make a shift in your attitude.
Try this simple practice:
- Close your eyes or have a soft gaze.
- Bring to mind some experience that you had in the past that you enjoyed, no matter how small.
- Stay focused on that experience, while taking a few breaths.
- With each slow, deep inhale and exhalation, say the words Thank You.
Let me know in the comments below if this helped reset your attitude. Were you able to take a few moments to try this? If not, what do you think happened?
One of my students told me that the much of his day was spent on boring household tasks such as dusting and vacuuming. We began exploring the possibility of becoming more mindful while performing them.
Our boring chores are as much as part of the day as exciting events, so why not bring the same attention to them?
You might be surprised at how much more you get out of being present and participating, rather than mindlessly getting them over with.
Try this for the next time you clean, dust, iron or sweep:
- Take a few breaths.
- Look at what needs to be done.
- Pick a place to begin.
- With each movement, watch the object you are cleaning change.
- Notice your body as you are working and if you are uncomfortable shift your alignment.
- Continue to notice each step of the process until you finish.
- Now, look at the end result while taking a few breaths.
- Notice how you feel.
Give this a try and let me know in the comments below if you were able to be mindful of your task. What was your experience of being present when you stayed with the process? If it did not change, what do you think got in the way?
Body awareness helps to bring you back to the present moment. Among the numerous benefits are- physical and emotional relaxation, decrease in pain, lower stress, calming to the nervous system.
The body scan It is quite effective to use at night when you cannot sleep.
Try this short Body Scan: If you cannot feel any part of your body, imagine the specific area. Let go of judgment and simply notice and breathe naturally into each area.
- Notice your toes and the spaces between your toes.
- Notice your feet including your arches, tops of your feet and heels.
- Notice your lower legs, knees and knee creases and thighs.
- Notice your hips and across your pelvis.
- Notice your belly and the rise and fall of your belly.
- Notice your chest, across your shoulder and collar bones.
- Notice your back, including your shoulder blades, ribs and the entire back.
- Notice your hands, including your fingers, tops and palms of your hands.
- Notice your arms up through your underarms and shoulders.
- Notice your neck, including your throat.
- Notice your face, including your eyes, nose mouth and around to your ears.
- Notice your head, including the top sides and back of your head.
- Now notice and breathe throughout your entire body, from your feet through your head for a few moments.
Let me know in the comments below how this went. What effect did it have on you? If you could not do it, what do you think happened?
The web definition of a mountain: A natural elevation of the earth's surface having considerable mass, generally steep sides, and a height greater than that of a hill.
A mountain is unmovable. It is solid and even when the weather and seasons change, the mountain maintains its structure.
As humans, we have stressful situations that change our weather and seasons and we often get lost in the changes, forgetting we have the characteristics of mountains. There is some part of us beneath the surface of our minds that has considerable mass, just like the mountain.
- Stand with your feet side by side with your toes slightly inward.
- Feel the solid contact of your feet on the surface beneath you.
- Bring to mind the image of a majestic mountain. It might be one you have seen.
- Take a close look at its powerful structure.
- Imagine that you are that mountain and breathe into that vastness in yourself.
Let me know in the comments below if you were able to see this mountain. Could you feel it in your body? If not, what do you think got in your way? Share your experience in the comments below.
It is not only the quantity of sleep, but the quality of sleep that is important. Even if you have interrupted sleep, you can have a more restful night, and generate more stamina throughout your day.
A focused breathing practice will help. The benefits of focused breathing are:
- Quiets your mind, bringing you back to the moment
- Brings more oxygen into your body, increasing stamina during the day
- Lowers your heart rate and calms your nervous system
1. Lie on your back in bed, with a pillow under your knees and begin breathing through your nose.
2. Put your attention on your breath without judging or influencing it in any way.
3. Notice the entire breath cycle of inhalation and exhalation.
4. Notice where your breath is most evident to you:
- Is it the movement of air into your nostrils?
- Is it the movement of air in your nose or throat?
- Is it the rise and fall of your belly and chest?
- Is it the entire cycle of your breath?
5. Wherever it is, keep your attention there, staying aware of your breath. There is not right way to notice, simply be aware.
6. As you follow your breath you may notice your attention wandering to your thoughts. If it wanders simply and kindly bring it back to the breath.
Use this technique anytime you wake up in the night, or to get to sleep.
Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you. If it did not work, what do you think happened?