All the talk lately about mindfulness got me thinking: do I really know what this is and how to practice it? If I wondered about how to be mindful, I imagine others did, too. So, I took my questions to an expert, Cara Bradley, author, yoga and meditation teacher, and founder of Verge Yoga in Philadelphia, PA.
We are always looking to find the magic bullet—the thing that will fix everything for all time. What would be the fun in that? Where is the mastery and challenge in life when we just want to do something once and be done with it? We are always wanting to check things off the list. It’s part of being human. So how do we drop into commitments, and doing something better for ourselves? We must commit, but then recommit by making our new habits bulletproof.
Have you ever had a project that you just can’t seem to start? As a deadline approached, did you distract yourself under a growing mountain of fear?
I am a master procrastinator, too. Why do we distract ourselves when it makes our work less enjoyable and more difficult?
Self-Criticism and Procrastination
Life is busy. Between work, the commute to and from work, taking care of a family and participating in extracurricular activities, there is hardly time to maintain a regular yoga practice.
For the majority of us, work and our commute take up most of our time on an average day, so wouldn’t it be nice to throw in some yoga and mindfulness in the few open spaces you can squeeze in?
“Patience is not learned in safety.” -Pema Chodron
Spring tests my patience. Every single year. Especially here in Colorado, as the weather whips back and forth between snow and sun, and as calm mornings give way to blustery afternoons, my patience is tried every spring. I become anxious for warmer, more stable weather.
Every spring, I am reminded once again that I am not in control. Patience is the only way through.
We humans, though, don’t learn patience the easy way. We don’t learn patience when things are going our way. Rather, we learn patience when we are tested, and when we finally have to accept that we can’t control the world.
How many times have you tried to tell your friends about the energy body but you just can’t seem to convince it’s real?
How many times have said friends stopped talking to you altogether, or at the very least mentally categorized you as the cuckoo?
Yoga teachers are famous for saying funny things that don’t make sense to non-practitioners. It’s hard to put into words the things we feel sometimes, especially words that everyone can understand.
But those days might soon come to pass. Stephanie Shorter, PhD, presented a lecture at the Dallas Yoga Conference on yoga research, summarizing past and current scientific research in words that yoga teachers and students can understand and most importantly, connecting all our crazy new age rhetoric into hard science.
Here are five enlightening facts to help you understand what is happening in the body on a physiological level, plus practical applications to integrate into your daily practice (good news: you probably do these things already!)
I recently attended a Health event as the magazine launched its new mantra, “Happy begins here.”
I love that saying.
I have been trying to remind myself daily that happiness comes from within me. All I have to do is see my little guy’s smile to be really happy; but there are some days I can still feel blue.
I am admitting this because I want everyone to know that we are all human and we all have emotions. Depression is a real thing and it’s difficult to be in the depth of it and feel somewhat helpless.
Anxiety usually stems from worrying too much about the future and your “to do” list. Here are some yoga poses you can do to combat anxiety. Depression, on the other hand is when we get stuck in the past. Practicing yoga helps ground us in the present moment so we can feel truly happy.
Try rocking forward to the front of your feet or sit bones (if you’re seated) and notice how it produces anxiety, moving into the future too fast. Now, lean back in your seat or to the heels of your feet; notice how you slump your shoulders forward and feel a little down. Finally, feel yourself anchored right in the middle of your seat or your feet and feel grounded and present. Try this exercise whenever you feel anxious or a bit depressed.
After I shared this information in my newsletter, I heard from some friends and students that they too suffer from both anxiety and depression. Clearly, lots of people deal with depression. Yes, even us “enlightened” yogis.
If you practice yoga, chances are someone is going to ask you what yoga is and why you do it. I have answered both of these questions time after time over the years and it never ceases to amaze me how much misinformation is circulating, based on stereotypes or without thinking.
I was talking to my brother a few weeks ago, expressing how great yoga would be for my niece who is a very flexible athlete. His response? “She’ll start yoga when she’s 50 and starts to slow down.” You would think I would have taken this opportunity to inform him of the various styles of yoga available, the mental and physical benefits of yoga for all ages, and the need for an athlete to balance sports strength and power with the flexibility and healing benefits of yoga—but I didn’t. Instead I sat there stunned.
You walk into yoga class. The instructor calls out, “Option to grab a yoga block,” and receives smirks from much of the room. Real yogis don’t need blocks, right?
Well, it might be time to readjust your mat and your mindset. Yoga blocks can actually challenge your practice by allowing you to tackle more difficult postures. They can also help with alignment and proper muscle engagement.
So, grab a yoga block and give these eight yoga poses a try:
1. Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Place a yoga block between your inner thighs to energize them and advance the posture. Or, if you have difficulty lifting your pelvis, place a block under your sacrum for support.
I have been making friends with impermanence. It may sound silly, but after a profound meditation experience, I came face to face with the realization that I am a control freak, and while that control has helped me in some ways, it has also caused me much suffering. I’ve opened up to the reality that everything is in a state of impermanence — the seasons change, each day is different from the previous one, all living things grow, relationships change, the years go by.
At first this was rather scary to me, as it brought up all of my fears of the unknown. I wanted to hide in my usual pattern of planning in order to maintain some power over the future. Then it dawned on me: My life is in a much better place than it used to be, and that is due primarily to the moments over the past few years when I let go and went with the flow.