Saturday, February 5, 2011
Holistic View: Breathing into the Uncomfortable
Mandala Detail 2, by Petrus Boots- Art Unseen
I have been practicing yoga on and off now for the past four years. Let me tell you, there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. It's not just bending your body like a pretzel (trust me, my body doesn't bend that way). There is a lot of mental work in yoga. If your mind is not focused on what you are doing in this moment, your whole practice suffers.
A lot of times my mind wanders while I'm doing yoga. I think it's only natural. When I'm holding a pose, I start thinking of the most mundane thoughts, like 'Ok, after this I'm going to cook dinner, then the dishes have to be done, I wonder if I'm running low on olive oil, I should check...' Then WHAM! My body starts to wobble, I start to tip over, and my whole pose is unravelling! My mind is in such over-drive mode all the time that I can't stop multitasking for a single hour. Kind of sad.
But last week I had this epiphany. I was moving from downward facing dog (pictured right) into a balance posture where my right knee was hooked on to the outside of my right elbow (go ahead, I'll give you a minute to try it out). My weight was forward, my body was tucked into a little ball, and the only thing my mind was thinking was 'This feels right' . This feels right. How strange. Scrunched there in that little ball, my body felt good, blissful even! It was like I was smiling from the inside. I knew right then that this 'right' feeling was how my body should feel in EVERY yoga pose I do. When your body is in proper alignment, even the most awkward pose feels natural.
So how do you achieve this in a lasting way? How can the actions you do (in yoga and life in general) feel like the right thing? How can the actions you take make your whole body smile? Well, I'm still working on that.... I think the key is focusing on what is happening now, in this moment. Not on the grocery list, the to-do list, your schedule. Focusing on the now is what's hard work. It's hard to stay focused for an hour, ensuring each pose your body moves into feels comfortable and natural. It's hard to appreciate the view outside of your window when you have a million things to do.
But I've found that when I really focus on what is happening right now, when I stop multitasking, that's when that indescribable blissful feeling comes over me. When I'm really paying full attention to the colours in the sky as the sun is setting, or really concentrating on aligning my body. It takes practice, and it definitely takes work, but it's worth the reward of feeling good, even for just a moment. It all starts with taking a deep breath, and concentrating on taking in this moment. You might just realize that slowing down, breathing deeply, and concentrating brings a smile to your face. And hey, you can't buy that kind of happiness.
*Plug alert* Just want to share one of my all-time favourite websites, Yoga Today. The yoga instructors are fantastic and bring happiness to my day! If you become member for free you can access a free class every week. I am in no way affiliated with this website, I just wanted to share a great resource.
Thank you to Stefanie of Art Unseen for the use of the limited edition remarque print 'Mandala Detail 2' by Petrus Boots. You can purchase this artwork, along with other fine art prints and originals at Art Unseen's online shop.