By Elizabeth Morris
My favorite thing about yoga is that I can go anywhere in the world, easily find a yoga class and join in. I know I will be surrounded by like-minded people, practicing self-awareness and building a higher consciousness. I will feel right at home no matter where I am.
But the most important lesson yoga has taught me is how have compassion for myself and others.
People often ask if I really practice yoga every day and I’m able to say truthfully, I do.
THERE IS FAR MORE TO YOGA THAN DOING PRETZELS ON THE MAT.
For me, yoga is a way of life. As you move into and out of postures on the mat you learn what makes you tick as a human being. All you have to do is start to notice. Do you rush to the mat and try to get through the lesson as fast as possible? Do you find the relaxation section a nuisance and think of it as a waste of time? Do you approach life like that too?
Do you only like forward bends but avoid the backbends and twists? What in life do you like to move towards and what do you avoid?
YOU ONLY NEED TWO TOOLS TO CREATE BALANCE: YOUR MIND AND YOUR BREATH.
Yoga helps you be quiet enough to hear the routine you play in your mind and then it helps you let it go and replace it with a whole new mindset. Your mind is a thinking machine that can bombard you with ideas, chatter and beliefs all the time. You can learn to slow it down by focusing on your thoughts and just acknowledge that they are only thoughts, not reality. The monkey mind chatter will soon die down when you do that.
I can practice every day because one of yoga’s key learnings is to be kind to yourself. Yoga teaches you to find a balance between mind, body and spirit and the world of demands.
Your breath for example, is a wonderful natural rhythm maker. As that monkey mind quiets down, you can turn your focus onto its ebb and flow and let other distractions ease away. Like listening to the rhythm of gentle music, all you need to do is tune in.
SOME DAYS I'LL WAKE UP WITH ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE TO GET OUT OF BED BUT MY MIND STILL RACING TO GET UP AND DO SOMETHING.
I am now able to gently tune into my intention to take care of my body, spirit and mind no matter what. And then I know that I can just as easily do that from my bed as I can by doing some stretches or rushing out! And by doing that, I will still be doing yoga.
So my yoga practice that day can be simply setting my intention to have compassion for how I feel at this moment, no matter what feeling that is, without judgement. Then, I turn my attention to my breath and notice it; perhaps it’s shallow and fast, perhaps stiff and jerky. Then very quietly, I bring my mind back to that breath and away from the judgmental thoughts. I let my commitment to care of myself soak into my body. It is never long before my body rewards me with a lovely sigh of relief and the beginnings of energy to get up start to flow again.
OTHER DAYS MY BODY WANTS TO STRETCH AND MOVE.
Some days I like to practice a Sun Salutation or a full class, which you can find in your city on apps like Classpass.
And if you’ve never tried yoga before, take a friend along to a class near you and find a teacher who feels ‘right’ to you. I recommend starting with a Hatha Yoga teacher as that style of yoga is gentle and allows you space and time to learn the basic postures. Go with an open mindset!. Listen, observe and learn. Your mat will show you the way.
And if it doesn’t, get in touch with me! I love to help if I can: Elizabethannmorris26@gmail.com
Elizabeth is an Advanced Yoga Teacher and specializes in teaching Hatha, Yin and Restorative Yoga in her YogaRest classes. Her life has become her Practice and she believes that yoga is beneficial to everyone at some point in their lives!