When people discover I’m a yoga teacher, they often say something along the lines of the following:
“Oh, I do yoga.”
“Oh, I could never do yoga.”
“I should do yoga.”
“I’m not (__fill in the blank__) enough to do yoga.”
“I don’t have time to do yoga.”
The interesting thing about these responses is the common idea that yoga is something you “do”. We see people practicing yoga, or “doing” challenging postures on a mat, in fancy clothing, and think that is yoga. Suddenly, yoga seems out of reach because of time, work, family, life. But what if I told you yoga is not something you “do”?
Yoga is a state of being, not doing.
Yoga is when you are in line with your mind, body, breath, and purpose. Yoga is to be in union with all that is in front of you, at any time. Sometimes that will take place on your mat. Other times, you will find yourself injured or sick or simply exhausted. At these times, practicing yoga seems the hardest and last thing on your list of things to do. To be honest, when your caring for sick family, or nursing an injury, you won’t even be thinking of yoga.
However, when you need to replenish your energy, or prana, there are some simple (and quick) practices that will leave you feeling refreshed and feeling as though you are “doing” yoga. But ultimately, all these practices require you to enter a state of being. Being present, receptive, quiet.
If you have 1 minute:
Conscious breathing. Begin where you are, seated, laying down, or standing and simply focus on your breath. Inhale comfortably, without force. Exhale gently and completely. Then begin again, allowing the breath to move naturally. If thoughts arise, watch them fall away and come back to the breath. Gently, notice how the breath changes. Does it lengthen? Deepen? Move more easily? Notice any changes in your body. Do you feel more relaxed? Are you aware of tension in one physical space? This can be practiced a few times a day, to reconnect with your center and refocus on what matters in the moment.
If you have 5-10 minutes:
Legs Up the Wall Pose. You don’t even need a mat for this pose. Sit up close next to a wall with your right hip and shoulder nearest the wall. Using your hands for support, shift your weight so the legs rest against the wall and your body rests against the floor. Allow your arms to rest beside you, on your belly, or overhead. Make yourself comfortable. As you rest here, enter into conscious breathing, just allowing the breath to rise and fall without force or control. Allow your belly to soften. Become aware of any sensations present from the feet to the hips, from the hips to the shoulders, from the shoulders to fingers, to the crown of the head. Watch the breath. To come out of the pose, slide the feet down the wall and take the knees to the chest gently. Roll to one side and rest for a few breaths before returning to seated.
If you have 10+ minutes:
Savasana. Set a gentle timer if needed. Come to lying flat, with legs extended and slightly apart, arms resting beside you, palms facing up. Close your eyes. Return to conscious breathing. Soften the belly and all the tension that may be present in your physical body, especially around the brow, jaw, shoulders and hips. Allow the body to feel heavy and relaxed, sinking down deeper into comfort with each exhale. Allow yourself to be here. Notice when thoughts arise, and when they fall away. Follow the breath. This is the pose where all effort is released. This is the ultimate practice of being. It may feel challenging, especially to the mind, but stay with it. Continue to watch the patterns of the mind and come back to the breath. To come out of the pose, gently move your fingers and toes, draw the knees to the chest, slowly roll to one side and rest for a few breathes before returning to seated.
After each practice in being, note the following:
How do you feel physically?
How does it feel to breathe?
What is the state of my mind?