Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Injecting a Little Zing into Your Yoga Practice

By Healingyoga

{SIGH} -- I recently looked at the date of my last post and had one of those oh-my-goodness-I-can't-believe-it's-been-that-long-since-I-last-blogged moments. Yes, we yoga practitioners aren't immune to things like procrastination, shying away from the things that are good for us (yes, Ms. Blogger, I'm talking to you and I'm talking about meditation), blowing off work for play (as of late my focus has been on the outdoors more than on sitting at a desk in front of a computer), cursing (downward dognabbit!), losing track of time, and a whole host of other human foibles. 

Just because I practice yoga on a regular basis doesn't mean I am above these delightful little human foibles [I just love this article that carrries the same sentiment -- Crack Smokin' Yoga Teachers]. Just about every day this week, I thought about blogging only to find myself brushing it off with a breezy "it'll keep till tomorrow" attitude. I tend to to this quite a bit -- I get absorbed in my day, in my own little world, and things like emails, texts, and phone messages don't get returned, blog posts don't get written, and non-critical tasks get sidelined for another day. Hmmmm...perhaps I'm too in the moment?

Well, this week, I added a little something, something (as a friend of mine likes to say) to my yoga practice. I tend to break out this secret weapon when I'm feeling in need of a presence challenge. If I'm noticing that my mind is wandering during my practice or my body is moving more by muscle memory than by conscious decision, I add something simple to my practice that changes the entire temperature of the practice -- I hold everything for one breath. Here's a little example of a the short yoga pratice that I was doing for the bulk of the week:

  • Tadasana -- Stand feet together, arms down by your sides. Inhale your arms up from the side while simultaneously raising the heels off the ground. At the top of the inhale the palms of your hands will be touching and you will be balanced on the balls of your feet. Exhale and then inhale while maintaining the position. On the next exhale, slowly lower the arms back down to your sides while lowering your heels to the ground. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Standing Arm Raises -- Walk feet out to about hip width apart. Inhale the arms up from the front. Exhale and inhale while holding the arms up. On the next exhale, lower the arms back down to your sides. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Standing Forward Bend -- Inhale the arms up from the front and hold for a breath (as directed above). On the exhale bend forward at the waist. Inhale and exhale here. Inhale the body and the arms back up to the sky. Hold for an exhale and an inhale. On the next exhale, lower the arms back to your sides. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Simple Sun Salutation Variation -- Inhale the arms up from the front and hold for a breath (as directed above). On the exhale bend forward at the waist. Inhale and exhale here. On an inhale, step back with one foot (you can either come to rest on the ball of your toes or you can plant the foot out at a 45 degree angle) while bending the knee of the standing leg and come up into Cresent Pose. Exhale and inhale here. On the next exhale, bend forward putting your hands beside the foot of the leg bent at the knee and bring your back foot up to meet the front. Inhale and exhale here. Inhale and come up, arms reaching for the sky. Exhale and inhale here. On the next exhale, lower the arms to your sides. Repeat on the other side. Complete 3 rounds on each side.
  • Easy Standing Twist -- Stand with your feet out wide. Inhale the arms up out to your side stopping at shoulder height. Exhale and inhale here. On the next exhale, twist to the right, placing your left hand on your right shoulder, letting your straightened right arm twist behind you. Inhale and exhale here. On the next inhale, come back to center with both arms straight out at shoulder height. Repeat on the other side. Do this 3 times on each side.
  • Modified Cobra -- Come into Child's Pose with your arms extended out on the floor above your head. Inhale and roll slowly into a gentle Cobra Pose (hands down on the floor, only bringing your head a few inches off the ground). Exhale and inhale here. On the next exhale, slowly roll back into Child's Pose. Inhale and exhale in Child's Pose. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Chakravakasana -- Come down onto all fours. Inhale while arching the back, bringing your chin towards the sky. Exhale and inhale here. On your next exhale, slowly drop your head and come back into Child's Pose. Inhale and exhale here. Repeat 3 more times.
  • Come to seated and spend 3 minutes doing a Connected Breath -- Here's a description of the breath as described in Christina Thomas' book, Secrets: Open the mouth rather wide and draw in with intention and willpower on the inhalation : then immediately EXHALE, just allowing the breath to fall away. You will not “follow the breath out” or blow out or control the exhalation or try to make it the same duration as the inhalation. Just let go and allow it to fall away as if you were dropping a ball off a cliff. This is a vital point. Many people will attempt to control the outbreath in some way, as they probably attempt to control your own lives. If the exhale is controlled IN ANY WAY, it is not a rebirthing breath.Next point : No pauses before or after you inhale or exhale. This is another way some people unconsciously attempt to control the process. Initially, you may have many random thoughts and all are OK. You may feel that you are taking too much time, that you don’t how to do it right, that this isn’t going to work, that you are hungry, thirsty, wish this was over, feel really weird, wonder if you’ve gone crazy, feel like your throat is too dry etc. And none of those thoughts matter at all because this process happens outside of the mind. Sometimes the mind is involved, but it is not required to cooperate in the rebirthing process, which is why the breath is more powerful.

Viola -- now there's a practice that won't have you just going through the motions. Now if I could only correct my procrastination habit this easily...

Namaste!

 


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