Yoga – The Mind Body Connection
Yoga. Connecting our mind, to our body. To ourselves, and with others. That’s it. That’s all you need in order to practice yoga. Often times in the world of yogi’s, we hear time and time again about how yoga is this or that. Why one can or can’t do yoga. New practitioners often doubt if they belong, feeling out of place, like they’re in another universe, or like maybe this just isn’t for me… but yoga is for everyone. The word “yoga” is derived directly from the Sanskrit origin meaning “unity”. Yoga unites us all to ourselves, and to others. Yoga is a discipline uniting or connecting our breath, awareness (meditation), and our postures or movements (asanas). Yoga is the total mind body connection.
Let’s start with this- you can. You can do, anything that you want to do. If you respond back with an “I can’t” response anyways, then why? Tell me why you can’t, and I’ll help you see why you can. I understand why you can’t, because I couldn’t either. Not just regarding yoga, but about anything in life. Yoga has been known to cure any ailment. To allow one to let go of what does not serve you. To connect to your whole being, so that you can then connect and give back to others. Fill your cup so you can pour into the world around you. To find your light so that you can shine brighter than you ever imagined. Yoga is a spiritual discipline. It includes breath control, synchronized with movement, poses or asanas, and meditation. Yoga, being described as a mind body connection, benefits the physical, spiritual, and mental aspects of our entire being. Outside of the simple definition, yoga is what you make of it. Some of it, all of it, or only what you find benefits you. Each and every individual practice, is beautifully unique and different than any other. You see, that is the true purpose of yoga practice. To allow yourself to find yourself, your inner peace, and what serves you. To connect within oneself and see your entire being for exactly who you are and where you are in every moment.
Where do we start? What do you do every single day, for you? How are you making yourself a priority? Do you work out, pray, meditate, write, meal prep… maybe none of the above? How are you taking care of yourself? How are you loving yourself? What is that one thing, that is keeping you from being able to answer these questions? If these questions present as foreign, or ridiculous to you, then my friend you have work to do. I have work to do. Let me tell you something, you’re not in it alone. We are never, alone. We are all in this together. The good news, is that it is possible to find strength in our unknowing. The practice of yoga, can quite literally pull you out of any present darkness and into your light, if only to allow yourself to see one glimmer of hope. The hardest part of starting, is taking that first step. It’s vulnerable, putting yourself out there. Putting energy into something you are not sure of or into something that feels uncomfortable. It’s hard because of the barriers that our minds create, as electric fences to protect us from taking that first step… but if we never begin, then we’ll never go anywhere. We’ll remain stagnant exactly where we are. There’s no magic in easy. Hard is where we grow, evolve, and learn. Go to a class. Watch a video. Stretch. Follow an IG yoga feed. Sit in silence, and simply breathe. Read a book. Chat with a friend over coffee. There are so many resources literally at our finger tips.
Are you ready? Wherever you are, stop what you’re doing, and acknowledge the situation that you are in. Your environment. What can wait as you let yourself have this time? Set your intention for your day, and even this moment. It doesn’t matter what is going on around you, take a moment to pause. I promise that the world can wait, and you will find yourself more prepared to take on what is ahead of you. Put your to-do list down, the email or text can wait. Put yourself first. Wherever you are, find your way into a seated position. Take note of what’s in your environment. Maybe a buzzing from an incoming text, a bird chirping, a zoom call in the back ground, or maybe laughter. Take note of the energy that surrounds you, and simply acknowledge them. Cross your legs into easy pose, one in front of the other. If you need more, take your right foot and place it into your left hip crease, half lotus pose. Now, root down into your sit bones, activating your root bandha. Place your hands wherever feels natural and comfortable. One hand on each knee, facing up, or down. Hands at heart prayer, or resting in your lap. Eyes can remain open, or closed. On an inhale through the nose, lengthen your spine from your tailbone all the way up to your neck. Pretend like you’re trying to reach the crown of your head to the clouds, creating space in between each vertebrae. We spend so much time sitting, compressing our spines, building up lactic acid and stickiness. Pause at the top, acknowledging the new found situation that you’re in, acknowledging that if nothing else, you have control over your breath. Take note of how this feels, to be aware of your breath. Now exhale fully back out through your nose, bringing that breath back down along the same path it went up. Let’s do that again. Activate your root, sit up tall, focus on your breath, and inhale. Guiding your breath through each vertebral body, one by one, not leaving anyone out. When you reach the top, pause, take a moment to acknowledge how you’re feeling, and exhale fully. One more time. Inhale gratefulness, for this moment, for your breath, for the support of your spine. Exhale anything and everything that does not serve you and your intention.
If you’ve never practiced yoga before, well you just did! How do you feel? Maybe you feel enlightened. Maybe you feel less stressed. Maybe you feel uncomfortable being still with only yourself. The benefits of practicing yoga, are far more than the limitations of language. Some benefits that I’m sure of and have witnessed are: improved sleep, improved posture, protects your spine, increases blood flow, boosts immunity, heals anxiety, improves focus, enhances flexibility, lowers blood sugar, improves balance, encourages proper alignment, instills patience, builds muscle strength, lowers blood pressure. If none of that pertains to you, this I’m sure will- it makes you happier. Consistent yoga practice has been found to improve depression and increase serotonin levels, that molecular happy chemical. We all could use a little more of that right?
There is no judgment in yoga practice, come as you are. You may feel uncomfortable, but what you’ll most likely find is that you made that uncomfortable situation, comfortable. You find the tools within yourself to weather any storm. Better prepared for what’s to come than you were before. Then you leave your mat, and you take that mindset into the rest of your day, and tomorrow. You may not be able to touch your toes the first time you try, you may doubt or question why you even tried yoga. What you’ll find is that as you stick with it, there will be a gradual awakening and eventually the impossible, becomes possible. Have you ever experienced that before? The impossible becoming possible? It’s, life changing.
Yoga is for everyone. What you’ll find in the practice of yoga, is that life will feel, calmer. You will realize that the breath you are breathing every second, is so often taken for granted. That your body truly is a temple, a life holder, your biggest support. The practice of yoga, is the remedy to any sticky ailment that is holding you back from being the best version of you. Remember, that there’s no magic in easy. It’s ok to be unsure, just move in the way that feels right. Reset your intention, your purpose, every single day. Every time you come on your mat. Every morning that your eyes open and you get to take another breath. The light, and spirit in me, honors and respects, the light and spirit in you.