Saturday, July 6, 2013

Observations: On and Off the Yoga Mat

After a second session of oceanfront yoga, I feel a deeper understanding of how the practice can benefit my life. Something has clicked and I am so grateful for it.

In yoga, it is said, the way we do anything is the way we do everything.

I am finding this to be very true. I am learning to be more observant of my natural reactions in my yoga practice, in day-to-day living and in my creative process. This is what I have observed:

I don't often give up. I push myself through the challenging parts, but I still have to remind myself to breathe. I catch myself clenching my jaw and holding my breath. I try to push through discomfort. I commit. But I am always aware of my unsteadiness. Balance often eludes me, but I try to find center and pick myself up when I fall. This happens on and off the mat.

My thoughts wander constantly until I choose to be mindful of the moment. Letting my thoughts go where they will while breathing through the mental chatter, I simply try to observe and relax. I am learning to mind my mind. I am learning to listen to my body, to recognize when it is time to rest in child's pose or push myself to stretch further. I am learning to set intentions that align with my values.
This too happens on and off the mat.

How we approach resistance is very telling. When my body resists an uncomfortable pose, when my mind resists positive thoughts, when my will resists the work I need to put in to move my creative dreams forward, I become keenly aware of my shortcomings. This makes me anxious. It throws off my focus. I know this must keep me from making faster progress, but yoga and life are both a practice. I don't have to be perfect. I just have to continue to breathe.

Yoga is teaching me to breathe through resistance and to get out of my own way. This is exactly what I need in my life. I am grateful for the spark of connection I am able to make with my day-to-day living and my creative process. I am surprised at my emotional response to it all. Above all, I am trying to be patient with myself as I build strength and find clarity, on and off the yoga mat.

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