Tis the Season… For Slowing Down and Self-Care

ACDY_Resting Butterfly_PWPAs the summer season comes to a close, many of us find ourselves naturally slowing down and falling into a more regular routine of school, work, etc. After a busy, hectic, fast-paced summer I welcome the advent of Fall and it’s calmer quieter energies. In fact, the autumnal equinox (day of equal light and dark) symbolizes a return to balance and is a good time to re-commit ourselves to some well-deserved and often needed Self-Care!

** See BELOW for Self-Care opportunities!  Aromatherapy Yoga:  Fall Restoration and Yoga Self-Care for LMTs for continuing education credits **

We’ve all heard the saying… “You can’t take care of someone else if you don’t take care of yourself”… right? But how many of us truly act in that way?

Whether you’re a parent taking care of children or a child taking care of a parent or other family… most people tend to put themselves last. Even from a professional standpoint, how many of us put our work or our businesses before our own well-being?

As a business professional whose work is all about providing care & support to others, I know all too well how challenging this can be! In the past, I have run myself ragged trying to get in those extra clients, or running from one appointment to another without leaving time to have a proper meal, etc..

And we all have our reasons for doing so… economic reasons, social expectations, belief systems, etc… Most likely it’s a combination of these and other factors. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of others if it’s our responsibility to do so – absolutely we must fulfill our life responsibilities.

But here’s something to think about… how often do we use this as an excuse to NOT take care of ourselves? Believe me, I’ve had to work through my own “martyr complex” and in the end, what I found was that not only did I sacrifice my own well-being, but I also sacrificed the quality of my work and integrity of relationships. Additionally, I set an example that was energetically disempowering for myself AND my clients and family members (whoever it was I was taking care of.)

The effect of this “self-negligence” goes beyond the physical effects… it creates an energetic signature that becomes embedded into our behavior and beliefs. In my case, I would physically feel tired, sore, sick, resentful, etc. But on a deeper energetic level, I was also sending the message that I didn’t care enough about myself and thus “teaching” those I was caring for that it was OK to be this way. And the more I allowed this, the more I reinforced this behavior in myself and (in a very subtle way) in others.

When I finally began to “undo” this habit and focus on choosing to take excellent care of myself, I felt a major shift in my work as well as my relationships! From a professional standpoint, I made sure that I scheduled my clients in such a way that I was able to feel GREAT (not just OK) when I worked with each one of them. It made my work more effective, comfortable and enjoyable for both of us on all levels!

And isn’t that the type of experience we want and deserve, whether it’s from our family or from our professionals? But how can we expect it from others if we don’t implement it ourselves? If we don’t take actions to be caring and nurturing to ourselves, we send an energetic message to the world that we don’t want or expect that from others as well.

There’s a wonderful piece called the “The Real Woman Creed”[although is it CERTAINLY applicable to men as well!!!] that we read in one of the women’s group in which I participate… here is a great line from that:

I believe that a woman [ or man ] who loves herself [ himself ] is a powerful, passionate, attractive force, and I commit, from this day forward, to loving myself deeply and extravagantly.”

So as you slow down this month, I invite you to reflect on your own Self-Care choices… how do you take EXQUISITE care of yourself?

And if you find your answer to be lacking, I hope that you will join me this month to re-commit to this very important task. And even if you take excellent care of yourself, please join me anyway, and we can share in loving ourselves “deeply and extravagantly!” 🙂

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Sept 20 & 28th: Aromatherapy Yoga – Fall Restoration workshop.  Contact Sheetal or visit West End Yoga Allentown or Living Room Yoga Emmaus for more information.

Sept 29th:  Yoga Self-Care for LMTs (licensed massage therapists)  All-day workshop for 6 CECs.  Contact Sheetal or visit Sage Continuing Education for more information.

 

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3 Key Principles for Good Posture… #2 Releasing the Shoulders & #3 Maintaining Safe Angles

My last post was about the first principle for good posture:  Engaging the Core.  To refresh… Strong spinal alignment begins with maintaining the natural lumbar curve of the lower back.  Too much curve (a condition called ‘lordosis’) and the anterior pelvic muscles experience congestion/constriction while the posterior muscles of the gluteals and hamstrings become overstretched and painful.  Too little curve (a condition called ‘kyphosis’) can create tension and hyperactivity in the posterior muscles of the body and weakness in the anterior muscles of the pelvis and abdomen.

We can properly Engage the Core by:

1. lengthening the tailbone toward the heels

2. activating the lower abdominal muscles

3. gently pulling the navel in and up toward the rib cage

This allows us to align the pelvis upright and hold the natural lumbar curve with a strong core.  Feel free to watch the video from my previous blog post for more review!  Again, it’s NOT rocket science!  It just takes some awareness, knowledge and discipline for ANYONE to experience good posture and the benefits that go along with it.

 

So here are the remaining two video clips – Releasing the Shoulders and Maintaining Safe Angles & Planes –  from my Yoga Essentials DVD series.  These are the foundation on which you can build good postural habits.  Please post any questions, comments or feedback… I’d love to hear from you!

 

3 Key Principles for Good Posture…. #1 Engaging the Core

For many of us, good posture has become quite elusive due to our sedentary lifestyles.  Human beings weren’t meant to spend as many hours in a seated position as we do today…. at work, in the car, watching TV, at the computer, etc.

In working one-on-one with my wellness coaching clients, I have seen time and time again how they have greatly benefited simply by improving their posture!  “How have they benefited?”, you ask?

They have…

  • reduced, and in some cases eliminated, chronic back and neck tension and pain
  • improved their breathing by expanding their chest cavity and thus allowing for deeper, longer breaths
  • strengthened their core muscles by regularly practicing their good postural principles
  • facilitated movement in their bodies so they move more efficiently and with greater ease
  • increased confidence and self-esteem when they experience ALL OF THE ABOVE!

It’s NOT rocket science!  It just takes some awareness, knowledge and discipline for ANYONE to experience good posture and the benefits that go along with it.  To get you started, I’ll be posting 3 video clips, each one introducing a key principle for good postural alignment.  These clips are from my Yoga Essentials DVD series and are the foundation on which you can build good postural habits.

Here’s the first one… Body Geometry:  Engaging the Core 

Stay tuned for the other two…

Remake Yourself…

As human beings, our greatness lays not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.   ~Mahatma Ghandi

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What a thought-provoking and powerful statement!  I think it’s especially applicable in today’s world where so much change and so many challenges are presenting themselves.

It can feel overwhelming sometimes when we are bombarded by so much negativity and tragedy in our (so-called) news, politics, and current events.  Even if you want to help bring about a positive change, you may ask yourself, “Where do I begin??!!”

Exactly where Ghandi has directed us… with ourselves!  Instead of getting bogged down and worrying about things outside of us that are beyond our control… if we focus our intentions on how we can help ourselves feel healthier and think better… we can each as individuals make a positive impact not only on our own beings… but on our families, communities and our world!

The only things we have complete control over are our own thoughts, intentions and actions.  If we each commit to improving and elevating our own well-being — that is how we feel physically, how we think and how we interact with others  — we initiate our own little ripple effect.  When you start feeling better in your body, thinking with more clarity and calm, managing your emotions and stress with ease… you indirectly affect others by example and energetic interaction.

We’ve all experienced something of what I’m describing before… If you’re in a room full of people and someone who is carrying a lot of negativity walks in, everyone feels it.  It drags everyone else down as well.  But if someone who is uplifting comes into the room, it elevates everyone in the room.

Now imagine if you are working to feel the best that you can each day… Your positive ripple effect collides with my ripple effect which collides with someone else’s… get the picture?!  And soon… the similar positive energies converge to effect larger and larger populations over longer periods of time… this is how movements are started!

If you are tired of feeling like a victim or a bystander… if you want to be a participant in something positive, then I challenge you to commit to yourself and your own well-being!!!  If necessary, start with small simple steps that only require 10 – 15 minutes every day.  For example:

–        take a walk outdoors

–        read something inspirational or educational

–        spend time by yourself to journal or reflect

–        take multiple “Daily Breathers” (just pause from what you are doing and take 3- 5 deep, slow breaths)!

The key is to take some action for YOURSELF every day! And if you are ready to learn even more powerful self-care techniques or just need some support and motivation, come talk to me… I would love the opportunity to help you!

Here’s to remaking ourselves…

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To learn more about yoga self-care and personal wellness programs, visit www.anyonecandoyoga.com… download chapters of my complimentary E-Book on the Home page, check out my 3-Part “Yoga Essentials” DVD set from the Shop or simply contact me.

Posture Perfect!

We’ve all heard it at some point or another in our lives… from a parent or perhaps a teacher… “Sit up straight!”  It may have seemed like a nuisance at that time, but that could be some of the best advise we were given as children.  This lesson becomes especially poignant because of the sedentary lifestyle many of us tend to evolve into as adults.

Having good posture has many health benefits:

  • You improve and maintain good core and spinal strength
  • You allow your body to work at maximum efficiency and minimum effort
  • You improve your self-esteem because you feel better and look better (Not to mention taller; I’m 5’ tall and every little bit counts!)
  • You have a more empowering presence

So how did we get to this place where so many of us have such poor posture?  I believe there are 3 key reasons than many of us are no longer able to sit up straight or even stand up straight for an extended period of time:

  1. Lack of awareness of when we are engaging in poor posture
  2. Lack of understanding of what proper spinal alignment is
  3. Weakness in our core region.

Awareness… Awareness… Awareness… Everything begins with having awareness.  Once we gain the awareness of when we are engaging in poor posture, we then need to have an understanding of how it should be corrected.  And after learning how to bring our bodies into a good posture, we then also need to be able to maintain it.

This is where a daily yoga practice can be extremely helpful.  Of course, we are constantly practicing awareness in yoga… we are always paying attention to the sensations and emotions our mind/body experiences.  Thus as our awareness is honed, our ability to recognize poor posture is improved.

Secondly, fundamental to all yoga is knowledge of proper spinal alignment in each pose, stance and movement.  For example, learning and practicing how to align the spine in Mountain pose helps us to stand up straight and steady…. In Easy Pose or Hero Pose, we learn how to sit up tall with no strain on the back… In Standing Forward bend, we learn how to bend forward in the most efficient manner so as to minimize effort and strain.

And finally, our continued practice helps us to retrain and rebuild parts of the musculoskeletal system that allow us to maintain and “perform” good posture.  Gradually, we find ourselves standing up taller and stronger for longer periods of time… we are able to sit longer and with less strain because of our better posture (although we should always take breaks during extensive sitting!)… and we experience more graceful, efficient movements that take less effort because we’re working “with our bodies” rather than fighting against them.

I know that it can sometimes seem overwhelming to think about all the things we could do to improve our health.  I’d like to suggest that by simply focusing on good posture, we can take a BIG first step toward better mind/body health.  It’s never too late to sit up straight!

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To begin learning more about how to improve your posture through yoga, visit www.anyonecandoyoga.com… download chapters of my complimentary E-Book on the Home page, check out my 3-Part “Yoga Essentials” DVD set from the Shop or contact me to learn about my yoga coaching and wellness programs.

Pausing, Breathing… and Reflecting on a Modern Yogi

As we headed into October last weekend, I found myself wondering (as I do at the beginning of each month) what to write about in this month’s newsletter; however, nothing was coming to me.  When that happens, my first instinct is to get anxious about getting something out – “I’ve got to get something out there… everyone else already has their newsletters/blog posts out this month?!”  That’s one of MY samskara – a conditioned pattern of thought and/or action based on my past experiences – that I am continually working to re-program.   Luckily, the yogi in me recognizes this pretty quickly, and so I PAUSE… and then I BREATHE deeply… several times… and I realize the futility of my anxiousness.  So I let it go.

I then wait until I stumble upon some words of wisdom or thought-provoking topic that I feel compelled to share rather than simply writing something for the sake of a “deadline”.  Well yesterday morning, I found that inspirational spark…

I was reading an article in the November Yoga Journal called “Stay Connected” which discussed how leaders in the Tech industry marry their love for technology and yoga to balance their lives (I recommend the article, especially if you are a ‘techy’.)  There was a mention of the late Steve Jobs in this article and suddenly an old memory came to me regarding him.

While his technological brilliance is well known, some may not be aware of the wisdom and light he also shared throughout his life.  I myself only recently learned that he was a self-proclaimed Buddhist who had visited India in the seventies looking for spiritual enlightenment.  And the more I learn about him, I feel he was in his own way, a modern-day yogi.

I have my own story about how Steve Jobs inspired me…  As most of you know, I worked in the corporate world for over 15 years prior to my quitting in the summer of 2006.  While deep down in my heart, I knew this leap of faith – relinquishing the comfort and security of a steady job to pursue my passion to teach yoga and provide healing massage therapy – was the right thing to do, I certainly had bouts of fear and doubt!

A few months after I had quit my job, a friend of mine emailed me a copy of the 2005 Stanford commencement speech given by Steve Jobs.  WOW… I was blown away.  I felt as if Steve was talking directly to me!  I remember now how it had inspired me to hear his words of validation and wisdom, which so closely resembled many of the lessons I’d learned throughout my yoga training & education.

Things like:

–       Relinquishing attachment to material results (vairagya)

–       Finding your truth (dharma) and taking action toward it regardless of others thoughts

–       Trusting your Intuition, your “heart-mind” (citta)

–       Self-Surrender

… just to name a few.

So below, I share a video of that speech with you in hopes that you too are inspired as I was 5 years ago and have been once again today.

Steve Jobs 2005 Commencement Speech at Stanford University

Stuck in a Rut?!

Stuck in a Rut?! (Recording)

I recently read an online Yoga Journal article that I feel inspired to share with you.  For me, this article is timely and inspirational because it validates my focus to a more therapeutic form of yoga services.

Allow me to give you the ‘short and sweet’ of it… entitled “Change for Good”, the article explains that we, as human beings, have specific energy patterns (called samskaras in yoga) that manifest as habitual tendencies.  Often, these habits are disempowering and even destructive.  While the author of the article speaks specifically to samskaras as being of a mental or emotional nature, I would suggest that they also manifest as physical patterns as well.  Let me give you some examples to better explain….

Physical:

–       How do you hold your posture: do you tend to lean forward or round your shoulders?

–       Do you have certain common movements or actions you habitually do without even realizing it?  Like always crossing your legs a certain way, tilting your head to one side, or crinkling your forehead when you’re thinking?

Emotional:

–       Do you get defensive when in conversation with specific people?

–       Do you get fearful or discouraged by specific situations and circumstances?

Mental:

–       Are you able to stay focused on one train of thought without getting derailed by other thoughts?

–       Do you make assumptions about your abilities or what you are capable of?  For example when faced with a new challenge, do you automatically think, “I can’t do this” before you even consider what’s involved?

–       Do you have a tendency to procrastinate?

Now if you found yourself relating to any of these examples, you are not alone.  We ALL have our own physical, mental and emotional tendencies!  They are part of the human condition.  Our samskaras have developed over years of experiencing repeated actions, movements, circumstances and thought processes.

Over time, they become our “modus operandi” or blueprint for how we live our lives.  In the article, the author uses the metaphor of “mental grooves, like the rivulets in sand that let water run in certain patterns.”  This offers a great visualization to further understand samskaras.

Imagine your mind as soft, unprinted sand.  As you go through your life experiences and you act or move in a particular way, or think and react in a certain manner to similar situations, grooves are being carved into this sand.

Each time you repeat these actions and thoughts, those grooves get deeper.  As time passes, these grooves become deeply engrained in your mental foundation.  And you “fall into” them whenever those same or similar conditions and circumstances present themselves.

Thus physical, mental and emotional habits are formed and unfortunately, many of these internal patterns can feel very disempowering – like we repeatedly make the same mistakes or perhaps continue to injure our selves in the same area.  Certainly, I am simplifying to illustrate the nature of samskaras, but this is the essence of how they work.

The good news however, is that we CAN change them.  Just as a wave can wipe away the markings in the sand, we too can clear our old grooves.  We have the ability to re-draw the lines of our blueprints and create new empowering habits.  And when we work toward shifting these patterns, we embark on a journey to truly transform our well-being.

This is EXACTLY the crux of yoga.  All the poses, breathing exercises, mantras, visualizations and meditations that we do are tools… tools to help us retrain our bodies to respond and act with more ease and comfort.  Tools to help us re-pattern our thoughts and emotions so we feel internally clam, clear and “uncluttered”.  This combination of retraining our bodies and re-patterning our minds is what allows us to transform our health to …what I like to call… an “elevated state of being-ness”.

And this is EXACTLY the mission of the Therapeutic Yoga program that I have been developing for the past several months.  It offers a systematic structure that supports you in your daily effort to retrain the body and re-pattern the mind to be healthier and more empowered.

So I encourage you to read the full article (http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/1719 ), and if it inspires you to want to take charge of your health, give me call… I would love to share more on how the Therapeutic Yoga Program can transform how you feel – in mind, body and spirit!  OR better yet… come see me this weekend (Aug 13/14th) for one of my 3 Therapeutic Yoga workshops and get a live experience of how powerful this practice can be.

Here’s to creating new empowering grooves…  Be Well and ENJOY ~ Sheetal

Got Tension?

Maybe the better question to ask is “Who DOESN’T have tension?!”  For the majority of us, experiencing a certain level of mental and physical tension has become commonplace.

In this context, tension can be defined as:

1.  A strained state or condition resulting from forces acting in opposition to each other

2.  Mental or emotional strain; stress

Thus we can experience tension physically when parts of our bodies feel strained or opposed.  When we have repetitive or “stuck” thoughts and feelings, we also experience mental and/or emotional tension.

Yoga is an excellent way to address all forms of tension.  Through a consistent yoga practice, we not only train our minds and bodies to release the tensions, but we also attempt to discover their sources.

How does yoga teach us this?  In my therapeutic yoga approach, there are 4 key components to relieving the body and mind of stress and tension:

1.    Awareness

2.    Breathing

3.    Patience

4.    Surrender

It all begins with awareness!  Many of you who have taken my workshops/classes before know that this is the first thing I always teach.  Sometimes, we aren’t even aware of the tensions we hold because we’ve gotten so used to them!

For example, do you find yourself crinkling your forehead when you think?  Does squeezing the muscles of your forehead somehow make you think more clearly?  NOT!

How about when the temperature in the room suddenly drops… Do you find yourself shrugging and lifting your shoulders?  Does this action bring you warmth?  NO!

And most of the time we aren’t even aware when we do these things because we are so conditioned to them.  So first of all, we must become aware… we must observe our minds and bodies and ask ourselves, “Where are our holding patterns?”  It is this type of introspective observation that can also help us to “undo” our conditioned responses.

Once we become aware of the areas we hold our tensions, we begin to breathe into those areas.  I know what you’re thinking, “Sheetal, how the heck do I breathe into a part of my body?”

Its actually quite simple… just imagine it!  As you stay aware of your area of tension, imagine your breath flowing into that area… slowly and gently soothing the area and causing the tension to dissipate.  This is a simple form of visualization that can be surprisingly powerful.

The 3rd key, which for many people is the most difficult, is to be patient with yourself!  Only when we give ourselves the patient time to feel supported and safe will our bodies respond.  It’s like wanting to come to a gradual stop while driving a car, but we keep giving it gas.  If we don’t let the foot off the pedal how can we expect the car to naturally slow down?!

Similarly, we must take the time to stop “fueling” our bodies and minds and instead let them come to a gradual halt where they can then unwind or do whatever needs to happen.

Finally, the last key is to surrender.  Just allow yourself to let go.  Sometimes, even when practicing first 3 keys we fail to completely release certain tensions because we are unwilling to give them up.  I know it sounds strange but it goes back to the idea of our minds and bodies being conditioned to respond in certain ways.

“Muscle memory” may sometimes be so engrained into our beings…. or certain thought patterns may be so woven into our psyches that we must willingly and conscientiously surrender them in order to truly release the tension we hold.

And while all of this may seen logical or at least easy enough to understand, it’s the “doing” that is the tricky part!  Like anything, these techniques to releasing tension take practice.  But, believe me, they are well worth the effort.  In fact, I’ll be so bold as to say that the Keys to Releasing Tension are the also keys to proactively staying healthy!

So I invite you to join me in June to learn AND practice these techniques.  Check the Calendar for dates/times/locations in Eastern PA.  And at the end of the workshop when I ask you “Got Tension?”…. you may just be surprised by your answer!

The AHA Principles – Honoring the Body

When we begin practicing yoga, it is easy to get caught up in the idea of doing the picture- perfect pose. Our competitive minds make us think that if we don’t bend far enough, or aren’t able to touch our toes, or look a certain way in our poses it’s just not good enough.  But yoga is NOT a competitive sport!  And a picture-perfect pose is not the end-goal (if you happen to achieve that along the way, then it’s just an added bonus.)

In the previous blog post, we spoke about having full awareness while doing yoga poses.  By using our breath to stay in the present moment we can really discover a lot about ourselves.  However, this awareness does us little good if we then choose to ignore the signals our bodies provide.  Thus, the next step is to HONOR this information.

I always instruct students to really pay attention to their first point of resistance in each pose – I like to call this “the edge”.  Once we find “the edge”, we just hold, breathe and observe.  What are our bodies telling us at this point?   If the body is saying “this hurts!” or “I don’t feel balanced/steady”, then we should back off a bit, make adjustments and/or add support to the part of the body requiring it.

Using accessories to support the body is a great way to not only experience a pose but also allow the mind to be present in each pose.  For example, imagine we are on our hands and knees doing the Cat-Cow movement – in Cat-Cow, we flex and extend our spines while grounding through our hands and knees (for more information on doing Cat-Cow, please visit www.anyonecandoyoga.com and download the FREE chapters of our yoga guide).

For many of us, the wrists may begin to feel pressure in this pose since we are supporting a good amount of our weight on our hands.  We can easily support our wrists to alleviate any pressure.  But if we choose to “tough it out” and ignore the message our wrists are conveying …

  1. We could potentially hurt ourselves
  2. We will feel discouraged and may not want to stick to our practice
  3. Our minds will be occupied by the thoughts of our sore wrists instead of being present with the movement of the spine and our breathing.

By bringing support under our wrists to alleviate the pressure, we would eliminate the distraction of discomfort and be able to stay present with the pose to gain its full benefit.

The moral of the story… HONOR your body!  Don’t resist or dismiss the sensations that come up.  Our egos may say “tough it out”, or “I bent further yesterday, why can’t I do the same today?”  The tendency is to follow the ego, to compare and to push further despite what we feel.

We think of ourselves as weak if we “give in” to our sensations of discomfort or pain. But nothing is farther from the truth. Being honest and honoring where we are at this time takes courage!  Giving in to our egos only keeps us in pain and prevents us from truly enjoying the benefits of our practice.  The idea is to challenge the body, not to punish it!

So let’s put those egos aside and instead HONOR our bodies wherever they may be in this moment.  Then, not only can we gain great benefit from our yoga practice, but we can truly enjoy it!

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Check out this video clip on “Honoring the Body” from Anyone Can Do YOGA’s Yoga Essentials-Fundamentals DVD.  For more information about the DVD or to purchase, visit the Anyone Can do YOGA Shop.

The AHA Principles – Awareness

Do you sometimes feel as if you’re going through your daily activities like a robot… just going through the motions as if you are on “auto-pilot”.  I know I find myself sometimes falling into this mode when I am driving a well-known route – I don’t even have to think about it, I just drive and somehow after about 15 minutes, I’m at my destination!

And that’s just one common example.  It is easy to become a creature of habit – to go through our actions without being fully present.  But how enjoyable is that?  How rewarding is that? How enriching is that?

Throughout the past 20+ years, one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned from my yoga practice is the ability to experience “AHA” moments.  Moments of self-discovery where…

  • I am fully “A”ware of myself and my surroundings
  • I “H”onor where I am in the moment
  • I have complete “A”cceptance without judgment.

When this happens, it feels like… “AHA!” 🙂

These are such important concepts that before I ever teach a single yoga pose to my students, I first discuss the principles of “AHA” – Awareness, Honor, and Acceptance.

Let’s begin with the first “A” in  “AHA”… Awareness.  We spoke before about going through our actions as if on “auto-pilot” – mind and body feeling disconnected rather than on the same plane of consciousness.  Why is this?  Two key reasons:

  1. We find it all too easy to get distracted by our thoughts of past and future and
  2. We allow ourselves to act from memory or habit because it’s easier to do so.

And as we allow ourselves to be distracted (going from one thought to the next, wasting vital mental energy) and as we continue to rely on habitual actions, we reinforce this viscous cycle that makes it even harder to stay in the present and leaves us feeling mentally & energetically drained.

Also in the process, we potentially miss out on experiencing and enjoying things due to this lack of awareness.  When I’ve driven to my destination on “auto-pilot”, I’m sure there have been plenty of beautiful vistas or interesting places I may have missed seeing along the way!

How do we break this cycle?  First and foremost, we must recognize what we’re doing.  Identification is the first step to addressing any issue/condition.

Then what?  It’s simple – just BREATHE!  The quickest, easiest and most effective way to bring the mind back to the present moment is to take some nice deep breaths, bringing your attention to your breath.  Our breath is extremely powerful in it’s ability to bridge the gap between the mind and the body.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking… “I can take a deep breath and that will help me return to the present, but a few minutes later, I’m lost in my thoughts again!”

The final component to really being present is the willingness to “let go”.  As you take your deep breaths, be willing to surrender those thoughts that bind you.  This idea of detachment or letting go is perhaps the most challenging to most people.  We feel that if we “hold on” to our thoughts that somehow we can control them; however in actuality, when we hold on to our thoughts (and even emotions), they end up controlling us!

When we practice yoga, we are continually practicing Awareness.  Each time we do a pose, we pay attention to how we move our bodies, we observe the sensations in the active and passive muscles, we work with our breathing to maintain this presence of mind and we surrender whatever comes up that does not serve us in that moment.

And just like anything else, the more we practice the easier it gets! This on-going process becomes the underlying norm rather than the active effort.

Now I’m not suggesting that once you practice yoga, you’ll NEVER be distracted by your thoughts… after all, we are human. 🙂  However, you will definitely find it easier to stay focused or bring yourself back into the present moment when you do feel distracted.

And as you progress in your regular yoga practice, your Awareness is honed and heightened to deeper levels of your physical and energetic being – it truly becomes a wonderful journey of self-discovery.

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Check out this clip on Awareness from Anyone Can Do YOGA‘s Yoga Essentials-Fundamentals DVD and for more information visit www.anyonecandoyoga.com:

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