When it comes to yoga, there's a healthy balance between finging structure and discipline in your practice, but also not taking yourself too seriously.  It's okay to wobble in a pose, to fall out of something, to fart, to sweat, to laugh, whatever...the point is to have fun with your practice.  Of course it's good to challenge and push yourself, but also make sure to incorporate enough playfulness so that your practice is enjoyable.  An enjoyable practice leads to a lifelong practice.

Often times there there is a correlation with those that struggle through life...they also tend to to struggle through their workouts, "if I'm not sweating it's not working," "if I'm not pushing, I'm not doing enough."  Try not to be overly critical with anything, i.e. yoga, yourself, or your life.  Beware of the critical mind, we are so hard on ourselves.  



I went to one of my favorite local coffee shops to get some tea the other day.  I brought a book with me and was excited to sit in my usual seat and people watch off and on while I read.  Unfortunately, that seat was taken so I found another spot on the other side of the shop.  I sat there reading but was distracted, finding myself repeatedly looking over so see if the seat freed up so I could move over there.  I was under the impression that I wasn't going to have as good of an experience over in this new chair because it wasn't my usual spot.  

I finally let the urge to move drop and allowed myself to look around me, finding ways in which the seat I was in was just as good, if not even better.  The window in front of me was less dirty, I actually had a better view to people watch, and I had more space where I was sitting in this new place.

So often we get set in our traditional humans love our routines.  But when something doesn't go our usual way, or we get bumped out of our comfort zone, it's a fun challenge to see how we react.  We usually can't control what changes around us, but what we can control is how we react and respond to those changes.  



Patanjali's Sutras have been used by many as the touchstone of yoga, but like the many ancient yoga texts, they can be interpreted in many ways...there is no single interpretation of yoga.  Yoga teachers will fall on different sides of the fence as far as how much tradition and structure from the past they bring into their studio.  

My belief comes from my teacher training and my personal research that one shouldn't become overly dependant on tradition.  Of course yoga is practiced within the traditions of the past, but the practice must also be applied according to the uniqueness of each practitioner's life and situations.  

We are living and changing beings and we can learn and honor the older yogic traditions, but we can also grow beyond it by adapting and incorporating our own contemporary insights and discoveries.  Tradition can be very valuable, but our current insights that help guide us can be found in the now on our own mats.  


Personal Touch

One thing I've found about yoga is that the practice can be different for every yogi.  Each practitioner can create their own approach to the art.  Whether you are a seasoned pro, or are just starting out...I encourage you to make your yoga how yoga works for you.  

For me, my yoga is my friend.  We don't get along every day, but for the most part I truly enjoy its company.  I make it my diary.  I check in from day to day to see what's changed from last time, how things might be different today, and have a dialogue between my breath, body, and brain to see what's going on and what I need to attend to.  Lastly, yoga is my therapy.  It helps keep me balanced, it keeps me happy, and it keeps me whole.  

What does it do for you?


The Breath

In a Vinyasa class, and most yoga classes, the breath is the guiding foundation that connects the movements. What's interesting is how difficult that can be.  Especially when something is new to us that we're learning, and then trying to add our focus and concentration to the breath on top of can be a little overwhelming.  Every time you catch yourself not breathing, it's okay to temporarily stop what you're doing, find your breath again, and continue on.  

An analogy I use to talk about breathing is looking at how babies breathe.  They breathe all the way down into their bellies...they're using the full capacity of their lungs.  And something happens as we mature into adults: our breath becomes very shallow.  We seem to only breathe into our chests, not using our full lung capacity.  

Lying on your back is a great way to find that belly breathing again.  Putting one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest, as you inhale, your belly and hand will rise up toward the ceiling.  As you continue to inhale, next you'll feel the rising in your chest.  And then as you exhale, your chest and hand will fall back towards your spine and the floor, and then your belly will follow slowly and gently contracting down towards the ground.  

These breathing exercises are the foundation of yoga.  If you showed up to one of my classes and all you did was sit or lie down in the corner of the room and focus on your breath for an me, that's yoga.  

Take the time to tap into your breath throughout the day, whether or not you're doing yoga.  It's amazing how important and vital the breath is to our overall wellbeing, but how automatic and how little we pay attention to it.

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