Karen, my yoga instructor, doesn’t claim to offer answers. Actually, she’s more of an “ask a question” type of instructor, consistently encouraging each of us to look within for wisdom.
And though it took me close to a decade (I’m a slow learner), I finally realized that I’ve carried wisdom within all along. Karen simply stirred it to life during my first yoga class, and I no longer thought the voice in my head was evidence of early dementia. Alternatively, with Karen’s help, I was able to embrace six simple, yet powerful daily practices.
Stand up straight
Actually, my mother could be credited with teaching me this one, but I was born programmed to disregard pretty much anything my mother suggested (brush your hair, be nice to your brother, are you going out dressed like that?). Through her classes, it was Karen who ultimately gave me posture, which had sagged for years like a 100-year-old roof. The result? I could …
At the first indication of stress or strain on my body while trying to hold a pose, I would instinctively hold my breath. “Breathe,” Karen would gently remind me. And I would.
Then I began to really notice my breath. I held it when angry … when faced with a tough decision … when my toddler screamed in the backseat while I was stuck in traffic.
“Breathe,” I could hear Karen whisper. And I would.
I would love to be cat-like. Instead, I act more like a dog. I chase things. I run, though rarely in a straight line. I am distracted by noise, light, and movement.
But Karen taught me that I can be still while moving. In other words, my mind can be still … though my body is moving. And within that movement, I can find peace. I used to think that was some sort of riddle, and maybe it is. But I get it. I finally get it.
Wear comfortable clothes
It’s hard to feel good when your feet ache and your belly fat is oozing over your skinny jeans. A wardrobe change can do wonders for peace of mind. Karen always looks fabulous, whether wearing a long, lovely skirt or donning her tights and tank. Lesson? Standing tall with a serene smile makes any wardrobe look good.
I never truly appreciated the restorative power of silence until I had children, pets and a talkative spouse. But walking into a quiet yoga studio feels like freedom. I now make a point to create silence daily.
And most importantly, listen to your body
I used to live in my head, trusting it to know what was best for me — even if it was lobbying for Twinkies and a Coke. Karen taught me that though my head might hold a brain, my body holds wisdom. And though it whispers (while my brain tends to shout), it can hear my body talk … if I listen carefully.