HOW TO TAKE YOGA INTO YOUR DAILY LIVING

“Yoga begins in the present moment, and the present moment begins in silence. From that silence, words are born.”

This statement comes from one of my beloved teachers, Michael Stone; I took it from his book The Inner Tradition of Yoga. I adore this book; it found my eyes in a serendipitous way while I was perusing through a book store years ago. Once I got it home it was the first time I really devoured a book about yoga. Since then I’ve gone on to devour more of his books; I follow his work and podcast closely and I know that one day I’ll study with him in person.

In this sentence Michael is referring to an ancient teaching from the Sage Patanjali (third century B.C.E.). Patanjali wrote a body of work called The Yoga Sutra. Which, by the way, I have not devoured. I’ve dabbled but it’s dry. Thank goodness for modern teachers that make ancient knowledge more digestible in modern times.

Over the ages yoga has shifted, morphed and become something new today, however, it’s roots run deep into human history. This ancient text contains 196 wise slogans. The first slogan tells us: “Atha yoganusasanam”  – when translated it can be interpreted as, “yoga begins now”.

APPLIED TO TODAY’S YOGA

When we practice yoga poses in a class or at home, we are invited to bring an exquisite quality of attention and a definite purpose to our breathing. Because of the slow, steady, specific work that we do with our body while we’re in the poses, we have an opportunity to cultivate an acute focus of what we are sensually experiencing in the universe that lies behind our skin and eyes. Because of this attention and focus we cultivate we can, quite naturally, be ushered into the present moment. Yoga poses are a time to practice feeling and experiencing what is going on in our body right now.

I want to be clear about something. If, while you’re practicing, your busy mind goes all over the place with thoughts of: this morning’s conversation with your partner, how your body looks in the mirror, what your kids will do after they graduate (my fave flavor of the month), are people looking at me, or what’s for dinner – please know you’re not alone! This is what minds do.

Don’t expect to never have wondering thoughts. Contrarily, you very well may may get some “ah-ha” moments where you feel like your mind is completely lined up with your body and breath in the present moment. At that point, you might realize what’s occurring, then you’ll think, “hey look I’m doing it”; at which point you’ll simultaneously realize that you’re thinking about how you’re doing it and in doing that you’ve actually lost the connection with being in the present moment. See the cycle?

That cycle is okay. The work you’re invited to do in a yoga practice is simply to notice the wandering of your thoughts, to catch yourself wandering, and then, ever so sweetly, gently, bring your attention back to what you’re experiencing in this present moment of engaged breathing, feeling and sensing. The act of bringing your attention back is the yoga. Bringing your attention back to the present moment is like a bicep curl for your brain.

Check this out.

What are you feeling right now in this present moment; this one right now?

Can you feel your toes?

How’s your posture?

Can you bring your breath into your belly?

That was yoga. I know, it wasn’t a yoga pose or a sequence of poses or you bringing yourself deeper into a pose than you’ve ever gone before or staying longer than you did last week. But. What you just did, the way that you brought your attention back to the present moment by feeling into your body – that – is the wide angle view of “yoga”.

We all come to yoga for different reasons and no one reason is better than another. Practicing a sequence of yoga poses with a group of others and a teacher is a piece of the “wide angle view” of yoga. And what a sweet piece it is!  This ancient practice continues to live and grow through the people that decide they enjoy the practice so much that they are willing to give it a home in their body. The tradition of yoga can only continue because it meets people’s needs on some level.Yoga practice has many amazing side effects, which I’m sure you’ve experienced first hand and that is exactly why you keep coming back to your mat.

CLAIM YOUR TRUTH

How does yoga meet your needs?

What do you get from your yoga practice?

What are your life goals that yoga helps you to reach for?

You could simply answer those questions in your head or if you’re a writer kind of person; write them down. Set a timer for 1 minute for each question. Put pen to paper, let your mind go and see what you come up with.

OVER TO YOU

The idea of, “yoga begins now” means – that in every moment, there is an opportunity to come into feeling and experiencing what’s going on in your body. I’ll invite you to playfully aim to remember this phrase when you leave a yoga class or get up from your mat – “yoga begins now”.

“Yoga begins in the present moment, and the present moment begins in silence. From that silence, words are born.”

There is a treasure in these words. When it comes to experiencing life fully, much distills to building and maintaining quality relationships – with ourselves, with other humans and with the world around us. If we are mindful, we can experience a small pause of silence before we speak, in our head or out loud. At that point we’ll likely be less reactive and more creative. Yoga is not about perfect poses. Yoga is a continual cycle of responding to life. The cycle does not end. Now begins the practice.