Monday, February 22, 2010

"Finding" Time to Practice

One of the most common questions I hear from students, teachers in training, etc... is, "when do you find time to practice Yoga?"

I encourage you to answer a few questions:

- What counts as a Yoga practice?
- Why do I want to practice?
- Am I attached to what happens in my practice?

Food for thought:

- Every moment is an opportunity for practice. Think of life as a perpetual opportunity to learn. Standing in the line at the grocery store you can rotate your inner thighs back, extend your spine up, and practice some deep breathing.

Bring your Yoga practice off your mat and into your daily life. Riding in the car is an excellent time to focus on extending the spine, rotating the buttock flesh down, and lifting the low belly.

As Westerner's, we need to be creative in our practice. Yoga doesn't have to be practiced in a quiet room all alone. Instead of mindlessly repeating your daily tasks think about incorporating the principles talked about in Yoga class into your routine. Ex: practice standing poses (like Tadasana in the shower! ;-)

It is VERY important to specifically set aside time for your meditation and Yoga practice. Start slow with goals for five minutes then work your way up. Also, remember that the whole point of practicing Yoga is to tune into your body, spirit, and mind - so one pose done mindfully for several deep breaths is a Yoga practice.

- Think about what your motivations for practicing are. When you sit down, honor yourself by connecting with the part of you that wants to be nourished by your practice. All the reasons to practice Yoga/Meditation/Wellness are created equal. Taking time to really root ourselves in intention can enhance the spiritual aspects of any practice.

Examples of intentions: Listening in, softening the heart, Letting go, tapping into to energy, spreading love, etc.

- Let go of expectations when you sit down on your mat and center yourself. Open yourself up completely to the unique moment presented you and allow inspirations to come, guiding you sometimes into poses that you didn't "plan" on practicing that day.

Your body is constantly trying to communicate with you - listen! Sometimes our mind will tell us that a vigorous, backbending practice is best - when truly a more nurturing, restorative practice, would serve our highest good that day. If there are poses where you feel resistance, practice those more often with an open mind. Everyday you practice is unique, all moments are once in a lifetime.

Finally, as many times throughout the day send gratitude in to yourself, to God (light, breath, Jesus, etc), to all living creatures, etc. Find things to be thankful for, like health, going deeper in forward fold, or feeling love and respect from a friend. No moment is to small to feel grateful for!

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