Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Week 3: Fall Into Yoga

If you've been reading my posts lately, obviously its pretty clear that I have recently lost a loved one. One of those hard things we have to do is move on. Getting back to the routine seems to be the best way to keep moving forward. This month I have dedicated my energies to recommitting to my personal yoga practice. In the long long long loooooong run, I'd love to see myself teaching yoga, sharing its benefits with the rest of the world. So I have been trying to do yoga for at least 15-20 mins a day since October 1.

How fitting it was to find a new issue of Yoga Journal waiting for me when I returned home from my trip. It was as if it was just waiting for me, patiently knowing that I would pick up its pages and allow it to inspire me to find my yoga rhythm again after a rough weekend.

I rejoiced as I grabbed for it, wanted to immediately flip through it's pages to find out what new information it has in store for me.  It silly to say but I really truly love this magazine. It has given me so much more information to supplement my home practice while I haven't been in the studio, without it I wouldn't have been able to maintain my personal practice with as much dedication as I have.

And just as this entire weekend is proving to me that their is some cosmic design working for us when we really need it, there is an article called Live, Love, Learn by Shannon Sexton;  "Move through and beyond loss with a practice that opens both the hear and mind, offers strength and comfort in the present, and prepares you for the next leap of faith or love." An entire sequence dedicated to heart openers! Our bodies are quite amazing and our emotions can work with or against our physical sensations and vice versa. When we are happy, in love for example, we have a flood of neurochemicals released in our brain such as oxytocin and dopamine. When we suffer a great loss of some kind, whether it be the loss of a loved one, a divorce, losing a job etc, our levels drop drastically and then our brain sends out those chemicals that cause our body anxiety and stress. Sexton writes, "That influx of stress hormones also launches your nervous system into flight-or-fight mode. As a result extra blood flows to our muscles, which tense up for action, sometimes causing that tight, squeezing sensation in your chest". Its amazing how an emotion can suddenly translate into a
physical feeling.

It has been studied and proven that yoga practice can help with stress or depression and improve your mental state so that it is prepared and ready to deal with high stress situations. I can honestly say from experience that having been doing yoga for a while now, and also everyday consistently for the last few weeks it truly has aided me in some situations. Handling the loss of my grandmother has been incredibly difficult, but somehow I've been able to stay relatively calm and positive and easy on my self. I wouldn't be able to do that with out yoga. The article goes on to discuss how not only do we need to mental process grief, but we also must go through the process physically. By doing an activity that is mindful as well as physical, like yoga, we can gently go through the process that our body, mind and spirit need to heal and become whole again.  Following the article is a sequence of heart opening stretches that really do help you connect the physical and emotional side of your self.

The sequence begins with this intention:
"May this practice reconnect me to my body, ground me in the here and now, and gel me from my grief. I ask for clarity and for the strength to let go of any limited beliefs that keep me resistant to change and unavaliable to growth. Instead may I open my heart, see beyond reason, accept without condition, and love without hesitation. May this practice be blessed. "

Check out this awesome heart opening sequence here.

I went to my yoga studio yesterday for the first time in a while, it was quite special. One of the kindest hearts I know, Mitch, who runs the  Happy-U Namaste studio with his awesome wife Karson, greeted me with delight. It was one of the greatest hugs ever. They are without a doubt some of the most caring, kind people I have ever had the pleasure to know.  It felt so great just to walk in the down and kick off my shoes again. I told my teacher, Rachel, about my recent loss and explained that if I was a ball of tears at any point that I was ok and didn't need her to worry. She completely understood the situation, as well as reminded me to be easy with my self and to allow my self to go through the process slowly and not to worry if emotions arise as we work through a physical practice. Being in the capable hands of these people who care for me, with little motive of their own, made me feel like I was being cradled so to speak. Its nice to let go and let someone else take control for a little while. When we share a space to practice with others, we allow our selves to receive their energy was well as share our own with them, which can really enrich our practice.

I had a hard time, during my trip home,  finding time to practice. The best part of yoga though, is that you can mentally practice all the time simply by breathing. Pranayama (Or breathing exercise) is one of the pillars of yoga and without it our yoga practice is missing a huge piece of the puzzle. We need our breath...plain and simple we must breathe to live. Yet another awesome resource from YJ, a Pranayama guide for beginners. When I am feeling the most lost, I simply breathe and it feels a little easier to find my way. Rachel read a quote in class yesterday that she related to breathing in yoga.
"Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily." -James J. Corbett
Breathing is something we do automatically, naturally, all day long. It seems to be a simple task, yet if we do it carelessly, especially when doing yoga, it simply does not serve us in the way it should. I won't lie and say that I can breathe perfectly during a flow but I am consciously working on breathing with intention. It is a great tool that is all too often over looked in yoga.

Well my "fall into Yoga" has been going well so far, I am looking forward to continuing the journey throughout all of the seasons of my life. 

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