7 Ways to Embody Truth in Your Yoga Practice
The problem with our same old yoga practice is that the same old person keeps showing up to do it. One of the key aspects of enhancing life has to do with shifting who we think we are, to who we really are, our true self and full potential. Our normal view of who we are is limiting, and based on past, unresolved traumatic experiences, and a whole set of limiting beliefs. If this is who shows up for yoga, you are not going to be getting powerful new results.
So in order to get different results, someone different needs to show up. How about showing up connected to your soul!
Yoga, the union of mind and body, requires a particular attitude to work at its best. When we connect with the place of resistance in the body, and open our being to sense and feel the connection with that place, we find that the edge of resistance usually moves and we are able to enter a new place. We get a new perspective and a new sense of self.
What is actually happening is that a whole bunch of neurology, which is limiting you, now has an opportunity to rewire into something more free, for your mind and your body. You feel great! The more we do this the more flexible we become, and not just on the yoga mat…in our lives.
In order to maximize these shifts to a more flexible embodied version of you, there are several things you can do while practicing your yoga, no matter what flavor of yoga you prefer. These are methods taken from energetic healing and spiritual development practices. Showing up connected to your soul, means that the idea of who you are (your ego) is connected to the truth of who you are, which is sacred and held within your felt sense energy (your soul).
This felt sense provides access to our source energy, and it contains energetic imprints, which hold all the ‘information’ about unresolved past moments that are shaping our beliefs and views, and thus limiting our potential. In turn, these affect ‘who’ we think we are, and therefore the attitude we bring to our yoga. It is a bit like a fish trying to know about water. The good news is also that your felt sense energy contains the code for our divine purpose. So by connecting with it you will be heading in the right direction.
Here is how to make your yoga practice sacred and powerful in seven easy steps:
1. To prepare: breathe yourself into yourself and feel the connection with the energy in your body, the felt sense. Realize that this is a sacred connection, your soul. Feel it as one experience, head to toe, the whole you. Notice how it feels; what is the texture, vibration, quality or color of your own felt sense experience in this moment? Be curious. Breathe, feel and connect, and say to yourself while you are feeling this connection ‘this is me’. Notice how it feels when you acknowledge the connection. Does it change the quality of the felt sense of you?
2. From this place of whole connection, move your center of awareness to your heart, (the center of your chest) feel the connection with the energy that lives in your heart center, and as you feel it say to yourself ‘I’m here for me’. Be sincere. Feel how it feels to be here for you.
3. Invite yourself to have an attitude of openness. Feel what it feels like in your felt sense to feel an attitude of openness. Check to make sure you feel open, if you do not just notice which part of you doesn’t feel open, then sense it as an energy. Notice, where does it reside within you as energy? When you connect with that part, just acknowledge it, honor it, and thank it. This part is serving you in some way. Allow it to do so, and just include it as part of your experience.
4. Invite yourself now to be here without agenda. Notice if you have an agenda and just choose not to. Breathe into an attitude of ‘I’m here, because I’m here’.
5. Great, now just stay connected to the felt sense of the whole you; centered in your heart. Notice the breath coming and going for a few minutes, until you feel settle, at ease and whole.
6. You are now ready to begin your asana practice. In the beginning, if you cannot move into the asana holding your awareness connection to the felt sense as described above, just reconnect with it when you are in the asana. If you find a resistance place in the asana, the key is to stay connected to the whole felt sense while including the resistance. In other words, do not polarize all your attention to the resistance. Just allow it, with an open, curious attitude, and without agenda to shift it.
7. Finish your practice with Savasana, using the connection to the felt sense as described in steps one through five above.
5 Ways to Overcome a Yoga Rut
Do you have to struggle to get yourself on your mat these days? Has your yoga practice become a chore? Do you find yourself thinking about dinner, the latest movie you want to catch, or just about anything else but yoga during your yoga practice? Are you demotivated, frustrated or plain bored of doing yoga? If you answered “yes” to any of these, it is highly likely that you are stuck in a yoga rut.
Okay, so that’s the bad news. The good news is that it is totally possible to lift yourself out of this slump–I know this as I have personally been there. I succeeded in re-energizing my practice and so can you. Here are my suggestions for getting through this challenging time.
How to Overcome Your Yoga Rut
1. Pause and reflect.
The first and foremost step is to go within and get in touch with your feelings without being judgmental. What are you experiencing? Is it fatigue, boredom, frustration, depression, anger, annoyance, hopelessness or a combination? Next, ask yourself why you could be feeling this way, and listen to whatever comes up. The answer could be revealing and could instantly give you the insight you need.
2. Take a short break.
If you are feeling drained, are lacking in energy or feel physically exhausted, it is possible that you are going through a stressful time in other areas of your life. You might also be driving yourself too hard in your yoga practice without taking an occasional break. If so, the answer lies in acknowledging and honoring your need for some time out.
Our bodies need rest to rejuvenate and thrive, so give yourself permission to press the pause button on your practice while you indulge in other self-care rituals–like massage. You will know when you are ready to resume your practice because you will feel a sense of renewal when you hit the mat again.
3. Try something different in your practice.
We are humans and human beings get bored. It’s a fact of life. If you are feeling bored with your yoga routine and find yourself simply going through the motions, you have probably outgrown your present practice. You need to add more stimulation and challenge to your routine–this will keep your mind engaged and interested as there will be something new to observe, experience and master. Trying a new asana, a new variation of your favorite asana, or altering the pace of your practice by experimenting with a dynamic flow versus static holds could reengage you.
Something that always works for me is to focus my attention on an unexplored dimension during a posture. This could be with a physical aspect (for instance, taking my attention to the way my hips and knees are feeling during cobra pose rather than focusing only on the bend in the back), or it could be through an observation of the pattern of my breath and the emotions, feelings and thoughts that arise during the posture. Try it yourself.
4. Learn or study a new aspect of yoga.
Yoga teachings have multiple dimensions and are richly layered. I find that studying an unexplored realm, such as functional anatomy; yogic anatomy and physiology; or yoga philosophy, provides me with a fresh perspective on yoga. Subsequently, applying this new information takes my practice to a new high. For instance, reading about the Yamas and Niyamas and reflecting on their application made a huge difference in the way I approached my asana practice.
Delving into the anatomy of individual postures keeps me motivated to scientifically examine myself whenever I am on the mat–this process also provides valuable insight into necessary alignment corrections, and creates an awareness of specific muscle groups that need to be worked on.
5. Stop striving for perfection.
If you are feeling annoyed frustrated, hopeless or depressed, it is very likely that you are trying too hard to attain the final posture. Perhaps you saw a relative newbie execute a flawless Pigeon pose at a yoga class recently and felt defeated since your Pigeon is nowhere close. If this strikes a chord, it is a good time to remind yourself what yoga is all about.
Yoga is a journey of self-discovery and transformation. The asanas are just a means to this end. To reap the benefits of yoga, it is not essential that you achieve a perfect posture. As in any other journey, it is rewarding to enjoy the ride and have fun along the way. So lighten up, accept your present levels of flexibility and strength and aim to enjoy your practice. This attitude shift may be all that you need to reconnect with yoga.
I hope these tips help navigate you through the temporary turbulence you are experiencing along your path. Remember, clear and bright skies are just around the bend.