I just got home from yoga and felt the need to share my experience. It’s been so long since I’ve been to a class and I recognized I’m really missing out. Yoga is so personal – if you start to look around the room you lose focus on why you’re there. It’s not about how far you can stretch, how deep you can lunge, or how far you can twist. Yoga is about being in the present. I wish I could apply this practice to other areas of my life – I guess I’m working on it. Since all my surgeries, I’ve been scared of yoga – scared I would stretch something a little too far. But really, I should have never stopped practicing. I think it would have helped me mentally heal.
Yoga is always so refreshing. It makes you be in the present moment and letting go of everything around you. It lets you focus on your breath – breathe in, breathe out – moving fluidly through the poses. I won’t lie – it’s not easy – but it feels so good. It feels so good to breathe.
At the beginning of each hour, as we all gather to our mats, the instructor tells us to come to the top of our mat and place our hands at our heart. Close your eyes and just breathe. Find your intention and breathe. “What would you like to focus on your practice today?” For me, I feel like this is the spiritual part of the hour. I think your intention is pretty personal but I’ll share mine with you. I use this time to thank God or whatever higher being for my strength and ability to practice yoga. I feel very fortunate for what I have – not only physically, mentally, but also what surrounds me – friends, nature, etc.
The first part of the hour is usually about doing sun salutations – fluid movements that start by standing strong and then slowly moving along with the breath into plank and ending in downward dog for 5 deep breaths. It gets your blood pumping and you warm up quickly. Somewhere in the middle there, the instructor says ‘Chatauranga!’ I just love that word – to me it’s a strong word. It reminds me how strong I can be and I think it’s a beautiful pose. (Here is a brief description of what Chaturanage is – The full name comes from four Sanskrit words: “Chatur” — four, “Anga” — limb, “Danda” — staff, “Asana” — pose. The “staff” of the pose refers to the spine — the main support system of the body. When performed correctly, the body resembles a rod or staff, with the spine in one straight line. An essential element of Sun Salutations, Chaturanga is a powerful strength-builder and arm balance.) I have other favorite poses and so maybe I will write about those in another post.
I love listening to the instructor guide you through the hour. I’ve only been to a few classes where the instructor was annoying or even inappropriate – that’s a long story but needless to say I didn’t go back to that class – anyways, back to the calming class. “Open your heart and exhale” she says. Wow! Open your heart and exhale – if I did that more often, I don’t think I would be so stressed or come across so ‘intense.’ By breathing in and out and focusing on your intention, it allows you to focus on what you’re doing – which in yoga is stretching, folding, twisting and of course, breathing. Even now as I’m writing this, I’m texting, making dinner, having a conversation with Alan, and writing…too many things. And I’m pretty sure dinner won’t turn out that great. If I can try to focus on one thing at a time, I know I would be able to do a better job – one that I can be proud to say I accomplished it.
I think, in life, we often concentrate on more is better. The more things we do, the better we will be. The more things we accomplish the better we will look, feel, etc. If we focus on accomplishing one thing and do it the right way, that is what will feel good. I guess I am making the assumption that we all do this – not just me. So forgive me if you’ve figured it out and kudos to you!
I’m struggling to find balance these days with it all – work, volunteer, marriage, family, yoga, running, etc. I’m hoping yoga will help guide me to focus more on what’s really imporatant. Focus on breathing in and breathing out and setting my intention.