Your mat is a sanctuary *** Your body is more than skin and bones *** Let your breath bring life inside of you *** Nothing else matters except the next 60 minutes *** Does your diet match your values? *** Let your breath swirl in the back of your throat *** Release the built-up tension into the universe *** Become one with your mat *** Adho Mukha Svanasana (one of the most common poses) *** Press your toes deep into the earth *** Open yourself up to the sky *** Be present in this moment *** Are you present in your own life? *** Do you participate in your own life and community or are you a bystander? *** Chaturanga Dandasana *** We're going to put our Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest and repose) into practice for the next hour *** We're going to allow our Sympathetic Nervous System (fight and flight responses) rest for the next hour *** Bring your hands to heart center *** Numerous different yoga poses ***
I've had a few people ask me if it's easier to do yoga being thinner than heavier. My answer is that it may be, but not necessarily. I have also been asked if there are such things as beginner courses. I have not run into any, but I believe there may be in yoga-specific studios....not typically at the public gym level. In spite of being on the thin side, I have to clearly admit that my body has been pushed to do things that I never thought I could -- and that there are still things I am unable to do with very much beauty or flow. It has tested my balance, my centering abilities, and my ability to focus on a single point. It is a nearly continual test of blocking out my day -- what I've done before class and what I will do afterwards. It is nearly impossible to do many of the poses while thinking about how rough one's life is or how badly we think we've been treated. We are reminded for the whole hour, over and over, about breathing.....slowly, deeply, in and out.
We don't "do" yoga. We "practice" yoga. Much as our lives are a journey of practicing. Over and over. I still have trouble keeping my focus. I find myself thinking about errands or things that have to be done. I do my conscious best to NOT look at the clock in the room....and I'm pretty good at that. (Except that today I found myself thinking about a very hot pair of boots that my honey and I found last week....he really wants them....but if they were in black, they would so be on my feet right now...except that yoga is done barefoot....which I love). I look down at my toes and see them pushed into the mat so deeply that I think they may go through it. And that makes me happy. To have this one hour of pushing my body behond its limits and make it do something it doesn't want to do. And I think of this friend in New York and this friend in Florida (sorry if there are others I've forgotten) who also practice yoga and how much it sort of brings us together in this unique experience....makes me feel like we have this ethereal common denominator that unites us. I hear the instructor's voice saying to push myself, to test my abilities, to do something that I have never done before. And I push a little harder at that point. The testing of one's soul, mental capabilities, and the pushing of one's physical limits is an experience hard to put into words. But if you've done it or been there, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
But one of the coolest things I've learned is the word Namaste. If you're not familiar with it, you should be. We all should be. In yoga, namasté is said to mean "The light in me honors the light in you," as spoken by both the yoga instructor and yoga students. I had no idea what gibberish they were all saying the first time I went to class. It is said at the end of class when we're all seated, legs folded, hands at heart center, eyes closed. And the instructor utters "Namaste." And all of the students utter it back. Silly and simple, I suppose. But, on the other hand, it actually has the potential to change entire relationships, families, and even nations. One can only hope. Wouldn't it be funny if a simple yoga practice were the single thing that could change our entire universe?