If our bodies could talk, what would they say?
Yoga provides us with the time and space to tune in and listen to our bodies.
Are we noticing small warning signs whilst on our yoga mats, or is our practice being driven by the ego?
Sometimes backing off when our body needs a little nurturing can be a challenge, so too can increasing the intensity to help shake feelings of lethargy. Deciding when to back off or when to move a little deeper is a challenge in itself.
What happens around us has a huge influence on our well-being.
Internal and external conditions influence the body differently, however big or small.
Things we take for granted such as general happiness, social engagements, how we sleep at night and many other situations all have an impact on our current physical and emotional state.
Each day is different both on and off the mat. We constantly experience a rise and fall in every area of our lives. Change is guaranteed!
In the same way, our energy, health, mood and behaviour will influence all those around us, life is a ripple created by action and reaction.
In addition to the changes around us sometimes the ego kicks in and tells us to keep pushing even when we know we should rest. Then there are those times when we feel lethargic, yet we know we would benefit from action, but we decide to wait until another day. There is a thin line that separates when to rest and when to be active. By really listening to the body and tuning into it we can work towards giving our bodies what they need.
Sometimes this happens all too often with our yoga practice, we might rush to achieve an advanced posture or refuse to omit a posture when we are nursing an injury. Or we decide not to go to a class or roll out our mats because we feel lethargic when really the body would benefit more from the activity.
Becoming more mindful will help us to really listen to our bodies and notice the different signs and signals it is sending us. It might also help us to identify when the ego is in or has crept back into the driving seat.
Yoga and meditation are wonderful tools and both help to develop a deep connection with ourselves. So why not combine the two practices?
Yoga 2 Hear have created Gentle Yoga for Mindfulness and Yoga for Compassion, both of these classes combine yoga with different meditation techniques to help integrate the practices of Yoga and Meditation.
Performing a mindful body scan prior to a yoga practice might highlight any areas of concern or any issues.
Here is an easy technique to help develop Mindfulness within your yoga practice try this on your mat before you practice.
Sit comfortably in any meditation pose or even on a chair. Make sure that your spine is straight and then tune into your breath. Breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Allow your breath to rise up your spine (this helps to lengthen the spine and encourages you to find your own natural straight spine). Picture your exhalation moving down and out through your sitting bones (this will help connect you to the earth so that you feel grounded).
Continue to breathe slowly maintaining a smooth and steady flow of breath. As you focus on your breath and the path it is taking notice any sensations that present themselves to you. If you feel lethargic picture your inhalation entering through every pore of your body and leaving through your sitting bones. If you feel over energised, agitated or excited feel your exhalation entering through your nose travelling up spine and this time picture the exhalation leaving through your pores.
When you feel balanced scan through your body, start at the crown of your head you are looking for different sensations or tension, send your exhalation to any areas of tension and picture the tension leaving your body. Stay with this technique for a few minutes or longer this will help you decide what practice is right for you today.
Don’t forget to scan your body during your practice and to continually listen to your body as you move through your practice.
Remember to find the time to tune into your body, change is the one thing we can be guaranteed of, through the practices of Yoga and Mindfulness we are able to learn skills to help us deal with and adapt to change so that we can listen to our bodies and give them what they really need.
There are so many factors both internal and external that influence well-being some are obvious and some are not so obvious, the list is ongoing here are a few examples to consider: - weather, time of year, current affairs, the well-being of family and friends, job, grief, personal goals and objectives, current health, location, family matters, personal anxiety, anxiety for family and friends, how someone else has treated us, seasonal stress, excitement and so the list continues.
Life for all of us is full of different challenges and changes, yoga and mindfulness can help us deal with or accept these as they present themselves to us.