Here we are, quickly it seems, approaching the end of another month and I found myself scratching my head today wondering where March and April went!
During my yoga practice this morning it felt good to take the movement at a slower pace than usual. Allowing my body to lead the way as I opened up to the day, breathing in slowly and deeply as I stood in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). With slow and deliberate breathing I lifted both arms up and stretched from side to side....ohhhh!! Yes! That feels like a good stretch and I can feel th whole of the side of my body opening as my breath expands the lungs and ribs. Bringing my arms to either side of the body and standing perfectly still in Tadasana sensing a balance in my body and a sense of peace in my mind.
Those two words, Balance and Peace are central to my own love of yoga both as a practitioner and teacher. It is because of yoga that I am able to restore equilibrium when life throws me a curved ball because no matter how much we try and stave off these low spots in life they are, unfortunately, inevitable.
Finding balance in our busy lives can often be attained quickly by pouring a nice glass of chilled white at the end of a hectic and sometimes frustrating day. Traffic in northern virginia continues to grow and even driving to and from work can be stressful. I can easily understand the reluctance of many busy professionals to add on another "thing to do" - Yoga to an already busy schedule. And yet, it is so worth it!!
But let's get back to Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Its meaning is of course obvious, to be as still as a mountain, to be connected to the earth while reaching for heaven. Although relatively simple, this posture is crucial as it teaches awareness of our bodies and helps us to recognise any postural anomalies. This is particularly good for office workers and people seated for most of the day. Take 5/10 minutes of your time during the day to practice Tadasana, it will improve your circulation, develop your lung capacity and help you to feel grounded and balanced in your mind/body.
Standing with the feet firmly pressed into the floor keeping the big toes inner ankles and heels touching, arms by the side and lifting the front of the body. If this feels unsteady, stand with your back against a wall, which for a complete beginner is helpful to ensure that you are standing straight. From here inhale, raise your arms overhead, interlock your fingers and turn palms up towards the ceiling, as you exhale lift the heels and then continuing the exhalation lower the heels. Repeat this with arms raised, lifting the heels 6 times and then lower the heels lower the arms by the sides of the body, close the eyes and take in 6 deep belly breaths. Open the eyes and resume with your working day or whatever it is you are engaged in.
Practicing yoga, even the simplest of poses, like the one I have just described, will have a beneficial effect on the mind/body. One of the important factors that singles out yoga as a vehicle for healing and wellness, is the use of the breath. The movement of the yoga asanas (postures) are intrinsically connected to the breath and as a result of that we begin to develop a much deeper awareness of our selves. The stretching movement described above does have a tonic effect on the muscles and joints and the benefits start accruing when one does this repeatedly and with awareness of the correct breathing.
Breathing is the most vital process of the body as it affects the activities of each and every cell in our body, most importantly the brain cells. It is generally seen that most people breathe incorrectly, using only a small portion of their lung capacity, shallow breathing comes from stressed and tense body/minds. This breathing is not deep enough to pump in enough oxygen to the body cells as a result of which we begin to feel tired, disoriented and drained of energy. Irregular breathing disrupts the rhythms of brain and leads to mental block which results in disordered lifestyle, imbalanced personality, disease and negative thought process. The Autonomic Nervous System takes care of our breathing bbut it is possible to take a conscious control of it by taking some time in our day to stop what we are doing and take in some conscious deep breaths.
There are no rules for when, how often or how long you need to practice yoga. Adapt your new practice to suit your circumstances and proceed at your own pace. If ten minutes at lunch time, or in the evening is all you have, then begin there. Life flows and events arise, people come and go. Joys as well as misfortunes, continued movement, endings and beginnings; this is Life. When we take time to stop what we are doing and take a few minutes to stand, stretch and breathe, we have the opportunity to feel connected to the flow of Life. We can become aware of the flow of our own energy (Prana), with the simple inhalation and exhalation of our breath. Just try it and see how you feel, it is my hope for you dear friend that you feel perhaps a little better than before.
That's it from me, Lizzie and to let you know that Beloved Yoga is sponsoring another wonderful event in a few weeks time:
Love Your Body Day at Reston Town Center: Sunday June 10
Come along and see for yourself what yoga has to offer you. We'll be there from the Little Yoga Room of Reston along with a wonderful collection of yoga and wellness offerings. See you on the 10th!