You Don’t Have to Strike Poses All Over the Place to Practice Yoga All Day Long.
Do you ever sit back and think about all the twists and bends and “pretzeling” that we do regularly as yogis? Honestly, if it didn’t feel so darned good, it could seem a little odd! At the very least, it certainly can seem very separate from all the other things we do in our lives. How often in the course of a regular day, for example, do we need to get our shoulder under our leg, say? Or do our heels need to line up precisely as we stand at the kitchen counter? Not much, right?
While it’s true that the flexibility and strength encouraged by a regular yoga practice aren’t called for frequently in the regular course of life, they’re nice to have — and good for us! However, we find that the skills we have to develop to achieve this flexibility and strength come in pretty handy every single day. The concentration, attention to detail, and ability to focus for long periods of time required to properly move into and out of our yoga postures are tremendous assets in life. They can make the difference in how settled we feel in our activities, in how successfully we complete our tasks, and in how content we feel while doing them. All of this can translate into a more general feeling of satisfaction and pleasure in life.
About two years into my yoga practice, I started taking piano lessons again. I’d stopped taking lessons and playing (except for Christmas carols each December, of course!) when I got to college. Once I settled into the rhythm of practicing each day and preparing for my weekly lesson, I began to see surprising parallels between yoga and playing the piano. Straight, strong back … check! Constant, smooth flow of breath … check! Singular focus of mind … check! Shoulders down out of ears … check!
Making music is simultaneously physical and intellectual. Yoga unites the body and the mind. Making music calms the nerves and soothes emotions. Yoga has the same effects. For my body to perform at the keyboard, I had to be in precisely the same state of mind that I had worked so hard to develop on my yoga mat – a keenly aware, highly focused state. In this state of mind, I daydream less, I worry less, I plan for other parts of the day less. In this state of mind, I’m just doing what I’m doing.
Drawing the parallel between these two passions in my life was profound for me. Suddenly, I could see yoga at work in my life in a very real, tangible way. It was one thing for me to sense it at work. I thought I felt better. I suspected my temper had cooled. Comments from friends had hinted that I’d changed somehow. This, however, was something I could touch and feel. It was FACT. Practicing yoga made me a better piano student and musician.
Empowered with this realization, I began to look for other areas of my life where I was practicing yoga. Lo and behold, there were many. I found yoga in gardening, in disciplining my children, in laundry and grocery shopping, in organizing the big fair at our school, in my friendships and in my marriage. In fact, I found that on my very best days (those days when I was at my calmest, when I was most productive, when I was feeling most satisfied — you know those days), I’d managed to stay in “yoga-mind” in everything I did.
Take a minute to think about your life. I’d be willing to bet you too will find that you’re practicing yoga in your days – even if you’re not standing in Tree (Vrkasana) while waiting in line at The Gap.
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