Next time you feel tension in your neck, or your mind is busy circling an internal to-do list, stop. Despite the inclination to push through, it’s more rewarding (and productive) to pause.
One in four Americans experience a great deal of stress. It isn’t just unpleasant to bear, stress can affect everything from your health, relationships, and work life. The near-constant distractions and obligations posed by a 24/7 culture only contribute to a sense of everyday strain.
On a regular basis, I have people tell me all of the reasons they don’t do yoga: they aren’t flexible enough, they feel awkward compared to others in class, they can’t quiet their mind, they aren’t fit…the list goes on and on, filled with fear and uncertainty. While it makes me sad that so many people are holding themselves back from experiencing the transformative beauty of yoga, I am also happy that so many people are sharing these thoughts with me because in sharing they are looking for answers.
The other day I attended a new yoga class. Though I entered the studio with ten minutes to spare, the entire floor was covered with bodies. For a gentle yoga class? In my experience the gentle classes usually provide plenty of room to find a private space.
As yoginis, we benefit from a community of heart-centered peers who help us to grow toward wholeness. Social media offers the unique opportunity to connect beyond our inner circles to like-minded individuals who inspire us with their grace and grit.
Looking for some encouragement?
Look no further than these six beautiful yoginis, who each embody the spirit of presence in their amazing Instagram accounts:
The very first yoga class I ever attended was Iyengar-based. This was some fifteen years ago, when I was totally into Tai Bo, Spin and Step Aerobics. Kind of an unusual transition, really. Truth be told, I hated it. I could hear the clock ticking, I did not sweat, and there was no music. It felt like such a waste of time to me. It took me a good month to go back. Honestly, it was like pulling teeth, but something kept me going back once a week.
As spring arrives and bathes us in a gorgeous display of floral colors, pack a picnic lunch, some yoga mats, and head outside for an inspiring stretch, courtesy of Mother Nature. Practicing in the open air with your kids is a great way to foster a love, connection, and partnership with our earthly blessings.
Seven years ago I found a copy of yoga teacher Matthew Sanford’s book Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence, in the local used bookstore. The book lit me on fire: Not only did Sanford’s story of loss and healing profoundly move me, his deep and unique experience with yoga’s ability to transform touched into my own and inspired me to teach to people with disabilities.
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Insomnia can deprive us of the joy of the day by creating anything from a fuzzy brain, to an agitated nervous system, to lousy digestion, to a compromised immune system. How do we get a good night’s sleep when our minds are on overdrive, and our muscles are bound up? One reason for insomnia can be that we haven’t used our legs enough during the day; when your legs are restless, it is difficult for your body to relax. If you can’t get off the “go” mode, sleep may be illusive—after all, for incessant worriers, what better time to worry than when you should be sleeping?
How long have you been coming to your yoga mat? When you think about your yoga practice, can you remember what brought you to yoga and how you felt during your first class? It’s been over 15 years since I first stepped on my yoga mat and I remember exactly how I felt. Excited and terrified.