I tend to be a little high strung, tense and stubborn. In many ways this has helped me in my life. It has helped me push past obstacles and drive towards goals. It’s helped me to challenge myself in certain endeavors and stay strong in trying situations
That being said, it had also kept me from being present, especially with those I love. It has often caused me to push beyond my limits in an unhealthy way, burning the candle at both ends. This has led to overuse injuries and nose bleeds due to the pressure and stress. Unhealthy and unsustainable lesson I learned in my twenties.
These experiences in my late teens and early twenties led me to yoga and other meditative practices. I began to find balance in my body and mind and became more present in my life. With that I began to enjoy life more. I began to enjoy the simple things in life more, not just pushing towards or achieving a goal.
As a father I realize how important it is to be patient and present with my daughter. I realize that my undivided attention is what she truly wants and that it’s less about the amount of time I spend with her but really more about the quality of time. How attentive am I being? Am I engaged in playing, reading or comforting her or am I in my head thinking of what I have to do next or what I “should” be doing?
Yoga helps me cultivate this presence by encouraging me to bring my attention to my breath and body and challenging me to keep it there.
There are may other benefits to yoga asanas or poses but one of the most important for me is the challenge it places on my focus and attention. Can I stay present and relaxed, focusing on my breath and body when the poses become challenging or do I get tense and tight and does my attention begin to shift to “mind”?
The great yoga guru / sage Patanjali says that we should practice yoga with a balance of sthira and sukha, or work/effort and ease. For me the breath and attention is the guide. If you are holding your breath or having a hard time breathing you’ve probably moved too deep into the asana or pose too fast. This only makes the body tight and the mind tense. On the flip side, if your mind is lacking focus and wandering all over the place, putting a little more effort into the asana and directing more focus to your breath will serve you.
If you’re looking to cultivate more relaxation and presence in your life, body and relationships begin practicing yoga. It all starts with the breath, so I’ve attached a video of a breathing exercise I often recommend to my clients. Do this for 10-20 breaths morning and night. Less is more--you are better off doing five conscious, full breaths then 20 semi attentive, fast breaths.
If you want to practice a sustainable and approachable form of yoga come join me 6pm on Tuesday and Thursday for Restorative Flow Yoga. To find out if this class is right for you send me an email or give me a call.
Below is a link to a 30 minute Restorative Yoga Class. This is the format I use to structure most of my classes. You can do the class in its entirety or split it up. The first two sections are great morning routines. The third section, sun salutation series, is great pre workout. And the final section is a good way to wind down before bed.
30 minutes Restorative Flow Yoga
Please let me know if you find this helpful and you would like more. The more specific the better I can serve!