The Practice

Find a comfortable seated posture…any position will do. Legs can be crossed or straight or any combination of the two….let them take a shape that will allow you to sit up straight, with a bit of ease. Relax your shoulders down, away from your ears….close your eyes and begin to connect with how it feels to sit in stillness. Turn your awareness inward. How does the body feel as you sit here…in this moment. The muscles…. The joints….scan through the body and be fully aware of how it feels to just sit. To BE in this moment. We take a moment to transition away from the activity of our day and shift into our practice. There is nowhere to be and nothing else that needs our attention. Bring your awareness to your breathing and just notice your breath… without trying to change anything, just watch your breath coming and going. Watch your body receiving and releasing your breath. Notice how the breath comes and goes on it’s own, without any conscious direction from you. Notice the body shifting with your breath. And once you’ve connected with the rhythm of your breathing, explore whether there is room to lengthen it. Keeping an ease to your breath, let it be a little slower….a little softer. Let it nourish and cleanse you. Know that the rhythm of your breath determines the rhythm of other systems in your body….let your breath lead you to move with ease, calm, steadiness throughout our practice. Continue to watch the breath….let it settle and slow. Let it calm. Throughout our physical movements, watch your breath…when it starts to change in someway (if it gets shorter, or speeds up), it is likely a sign that something needs to shift in your movements or postures. Watch your breath and let it guide you.

These words. I say them often. Some version of this comes out of my mouth at the beginning of every class I teach. The underlined words really hit me today:

There is nowhere to be and nothing else that needs our attention.

Nowhere to be. Nothing else needs our attention. Set aside the activity. Notice how it feels to sit in stillness. In this moment of transition. Letting go of what we were doing…..and not yet thinking about what we will be doing. Just be here. Experience whatever is real for you in this moment. The full spectrum of emotions that come to you throughout these days. They are all valid. Experience them, without trying to make them be anything other than what they are. Be aware of your breath. Let it guide you.

How do you move?

It sounds like a weird question….what do you mean, ‘how do you move?’.  I just do it. I don’t have to think about it…my body just responds by moving when I need to get to the other side of the room. It’s not complicated.  right? Usually, we’re blissfully unaware of the movements of our bodies until something stops working. You have an injury or soreness from a workout or maybe your joints just ache.  Then you notice it, don’t you? This lack of awareness of how we move could be the single biggest contributing factor to how you feel day in and day out.

The snow that’s falling outside my door (in April!) reminds me that I have to slow down long enough to think about how I move.  When it’s icy or the snow needs shoveled (hopefully we don’t see that much fall today), it’s sooooo easy to injure yourself.  It happens before you even know it. If I go out there and just start slinging a shovel around, I’m bound to pay mightily for it later. But, if I really take notice as I’m moving and take care to follow proper form, all I get is a good workout, not a broken back.

This is true not just when I’m shoveling snow. Every time I get in or out of a chair, as I sit, as I stand.  The more aware I become of my form, the more control I keep, and the more my form starts to work for me, instead of against me. I simply feel better in the day to day activities. This is a big part of what we do on our mats when we practice yoga: we become aware of our bodies.  We think about how we stand, sit, move. We notice. We practice movements that nourish, heal, and restore our bodies. The more often we do that on our mats, the more we begin to subconsciously do that off of our mats.

There’s a spot just below the navel that I remember a yoga teacher referring to in a class…an inch or so down. Think of this spot as the origin of all of your movement.  Draw it in toward the spine and maybe up a little….anchor there first.  Then move.  Do it every time you move (or even while you sit or stand) just for today, and see if you notice a difference. I’d love to hear about your experience. What, if anything, changes for you? Where do you notice a difference? How does your body respond?  Share with me in the comments below!

Move intentionally, friends.  ~Namaste~