Stability and steadiness in your physical body and in your life can seem elusive. There’s either too much going on or not enough. That’s where yoga comes in.
“Yoga is meant to be a full practice, one that encompasses all aspects of one’s life,” says Mark Van Buren, a yoga and meditation instructor in River Edge, New Jersey and author of Be Your Sh*tty Self: An Honest Approach to a More Peaceful Life. “We can use the fullness of our practice to live a balanced, liberated life.”
It’s the holiday season … a time of dark, cold mornings, short days and busy nights, tending to the hustle and bustle of getting things done for various holiday celebrations, all the while gorging ourselves on delicious — but often calorie-laden — holiday foods. The average day passes quickly, and you usually find yourself collapsing into bed at the end of it feeling completely exhausted.
Autumn has arrived, and with it, I always feel the need to turn within to find balance between the lightness I felt during the warm summer days and the sudden desire to stay cozy and warm inside, as the temperatures cool outside.
Watching leaves float to the ground is a reminder that our lives are a mirror of nature’s cycles and that everything is in a state of impermanence. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that no longer serve us.
Push-ups are a great all-over upper-body exercise. But they can be intimidating!
Doing push-ups on your knees is a perfectly appropriate modification for anyone who struggles with the move. These modified push-ups target the chest, shoulders, arms and core very well.
When life gets busy, it’s easy to get out of balance – emotionally, physically and mentally – from trying to maintain equilibrium between the activities that fulfill us and the demands of life. Very rarely are we able to maintain the ‘great Tree Pose of balance,’ as our lives are in a constant state of change.
How much more productive would you be if you could clear your mind by opening your body? If you sit at a desk all day, taking periodic breaks to move your body can counteract chronic “desk slump” and reduce stress and muscle tension.
Since yoga is all about balance, it is the perfect tool for creating a happy, stress-free body. When your body is in this state, your mind is more focused, making you a more productive and valuable employee.
In order to bring the body into balance and increase blood flow and oxygenation, do the following desk yoga routine at least once a day. Need a reminder? Write yourself a Post-it note! I’ll bet you have some in your desk…
By The FIRM Master Instructor Kelly Branning
I am a Libra. Although I don’t read my horoscope, I do identify with those scales that represent my sign. Balance, balance and more balance. It is a daily challenge to keep those scales from tipping over. One side seems overloaded with the things we do for others and the outside world, like family, career, social life and housework. The other side of the scale, including exercise and nutrition, usually threatens to let go at any time.
I think the absolute foundation of a balanced life is good self-care, coupled with good self-awareness. That said … how are you doing? How is your eating? Do you get everything you need from the foods you eat? Hopefully you are eating healthy, life-affirming foods every 3-4 hours. How about exercise? Are you finding a little time to work out and get stronger? If you don’t know how you are doing, let’s take some time to figure it out.
There is a quote that sums up my experience heretofore with yoga better than anything else I’ve ever read. I don’t know from whom or where the quote came, or I would totally give the person mega props and a huge, bear-like, electronic hug. The quote goes a little something like this:
“My yoga practice is no longer the battlefield of a long-waged self-improvement project by an overachieving person. It has become what I always hoped it would be — a place for love and acceptance.”
I think this quote embraces the yoga journey for many of us, because let’s be real here: How many of us started yoga because we wanted a thinner waist and perky yoga butt? How many of us, in the beginning, saw yoga as something we would conquer rather than embrace? How many of us saw someone in Crow Pose and said to ourselves, “I can do that shit.”
Over time, however, as we dove deeper into our practice — no doubt bumbling, grunting and falling along the way — our hardened layers begin to peel away, and we were left with the lingering feeling that yoga is something more than a way for us to gain strength, flexibility and balance. As we emerged from Savasana, time and time again, we began to realize that something else — something besides exercise — is going on here.
I don’t like being upside down and backwards. This makes Handstand a challenge for me. I don’t trust that my fellow students can hold me steady while I substitute my hands for feet. It’s a reflection of my own limited thinking, not an accurate assessment of their competence.
Still, I try. I go to class and work gradually. First, I achieved Headstand, which I couldn’t do a year ago. It’s a stepping-stone to the loftier goal of Handstand.
Yoga is always putting new challenges in our paths. Just when we think we have achieved a difficult asana, we discover that it was the modified version. It taught me to give up hope.
Hope is a feeling, an internal movement. If seen in its proper context, hope is part of the light of joy and love that is constantly shining through and illuminating the beauty of life — the awesome dance in which we take part. There is no need to feed it or hang on to it as a distraction or a promise. Instead, strive to see it in context with all of the present moment’s thoughts and sensations. It is but a broken branch floating in the middle of the river of the Tao that we can hang on to only momentarily; however, it must not become the totality of our reality.