A yoga teacher’s suggestion to invert has the power to illicit a range of emotions from students: bewilderment, fear, anxiety, aversion, rejection, excitement, butterflies — you fill in the blank.
Purposely turning ourselves upside-down is contrary to our physical nature, and yet the benefits of upending ourselves are many. Just as yoga gently encourages us to move away from any unconscious habitual patterns, the invitation to invert is simply another way to shake things up, step out of a rut.
A parent wrote me recently to say that her 13-year-old son’s impulsive behavior was frustrating his teachers and driving away potential friends. Here is the advice I shared with her:
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the part of the brain behind the forehead that governs the inhibitory response in human beings. It creates a pause between having an impulse and acting on it.
In the ADD-ish children and teens I’ve worked with, I almost always see up to a 30-percent developmental lag between a child’s actual age and their PFC developmental function. In other words, while a child may officially be 13 years old (and might be even more mature in some respects), they may be more like an 8- or 9-year-old when it comes to controlling their impulsive behavior.
You know who you are based on all of your past experiences and choices. If you choose to remain who and what you are now, and not look ahead, then you will forever be at the mercy of your own future life experiences. Instead of taking this passive approach, allow yourself to understand that you have a choice in all of your future experiences and make those choices.
Here are three ways to to take an active role in shaping your life:
Have you ever wondered what to prioritize when you are doing a yoga pose? What is the most important thing to focus on when doing Triangle? Or Downward Dog? Or Savasana? Ask 15 different yoga teachers from different yoga lineages and you will likely get 15 different answers. Is alignment the most important? Is it the breath? Awareness? Eye gaze? What is it?
I have wrestled with this question myself and have attempted to deconstruct hundreds of poses to figure out what is most important … but after 29 years of practice (yep, I’ve been practicing since I was a kid!) there is one element that I come back to again and again — and it might surprise you!
With only two more weeks left in our Better Body, More Energy challenge, I hope a lot of exciting things have started happening for you! Maybe you’re experiencing abundant energy (or at least more energy), a new outlook on health, or a brand new consciousness about your body. Maybe your day starts with a glass of water instead of caffeinated soda, and even if that is the change you take away from all of this, then I am happy you have made that progress!
Every winter, I yearn for a vacation. Surprisingly, ice and snow, the post-holiday blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder are not the chief motivators. What drives me is the chance to stop routines, habits and patterns — even the healthy ones: the dietary habits I’ll resume, the exercise routines I worked hard to put into place. Ever since I took my first meditation retreat over the week between Christmas and New Year’s, vacation has meant more to me than just fun and sun. It has meant permission: permission to relax, to reconnect inner body and outer body, and, most of all, to stop talking.
Meditation does not come naturally — at least, not to me. I’m easily distracted, there are a million things on my “mom mind” and I feel a little guilty when I’m not doing something productive. But I work at Gaiam: I have seen the benefits with my very own eyes, and the reasons to meditate are convincing! Besides, I work at Gaiam: Shouldn’t I at least try meditating?