How to bring more peace, joy and a sense of well-being into your life.
We have the capacity to heal ourselves and keep ourselves healthy, through being responsive to our feelings and needs. When we notice something is bothering us physically, mentally or emotionally and we do some little thing about it, we are doing our best not to let things build up from a little dis-ease to disease.
As we bring more peace, joy and calm into our lives, we inspire and affect those around us throughout our day—co-workers, gas station attendants, family and friends, and they affect others. Thus, helping create a ripple effect of spreading goodness into the world.
It starts in this moment with you and your choices.
Sometimes we think we need to do a full yoga class, or an hour long practice each day. If you do that’s fantastic, but the fact is, if you did five to 15 minutes of yoga everyday and a class one to three times a week, you would really begin to feel the impact! It might amaze you.
Staring small is crucial to developing new habits.
For example, pick a pose you like and feel comfortable doing. Do it once or twice a day, two to three days a week. Make your first goal something that feels like there is no way you could mess it up. And, know you probably will mess it up. Don’t give yourself a hard time, just start again.
There are many simple poses and small relaxation techniques that when practiced regularly can shift your life dramatically. When we learn to notice how we are feeling and respond to it, by breathing, doing a simple pose or action, we learn we can rely on ourselves to be there for us!
We create a moment of pause where we can choose how to respond to the challenges and unexpectedness of life.
Some ways to start are doing little things that felt good to you in the last yoga class you took. Also, below are three other possibilities:
>>Cat/cow: Start on hands and knees with a blanket under your knees. Let your tailbone draw down towards the floor, and allow the rest of the spine to draw up towards the ceiling. The head releases down to floor. Then, slowly reach the tailbone behind you and up towards the ceiling. Let the rest of the spine release into the body and lengthen forward, extending the head as much as is comfortable on the neck. Exhale as you round, inhale as you come forward.
This pose helps bring flexibility and space into spine, increases the flow of Prana (life-force) in the body and brings energy. As with all poses, while it helps physically and energetically, it also works on us emotionally and mentally.
When we are stressed we hold tension in our bodies and become tight, by releasing those parts of the body through movement we also release built up emotions.
>>Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hand Pose): From standing raise your arms to a “T,” really lift them from the upper inner arm (close to your armpit). Then, keep that lift and extend from the center of your heart out through both arms. Flip palms (so facing ceiling) and raise arms overhead, allowing more space between each of your side ribs as you lift.
This simple pose creates space between your ribs, which increases your lung capacity. This brings more oxygen into your body, which oxygenates your blood. Thus, feeding and replenishing your organs, muscles, joints, etc. so they work optimally.
It’s also a natural mood booster.
If you feel lethargic or something’s got you down, lift your arms and open yourself to life force. Do it whenever it occurs to you. You’ll notice a difference, and it’s cumulative.
>>Release your jaw: Release your lower teeth away from the upper teeth to help release the jaw. Allow the tongue to rest in bottom of the mouth.
When our nervous system gets activated by stress, fear or worries, in little and big ways, our body goes into a fight, flight or freeze response—just like animals. We can return to a sense of well-being and restore our nervous system by becoming aware of when we are activated and tensing, remembering to breathe and talking to ourselves in a comforting way—like a parent to a child, to slowly release the gripping.
Do your best, keep noticing, keep responding. And when you falter—start again.
Katja Lautersteinis a 500-hour Certified Yoga Instructor who has been practicing yoga since she was in her yogi mother’s belly. She has been practicing for 15 years and teaching since 2009. She currently teaches at High Desert Yoga in Albuquerqu, NM and wonders why she waited so long to do something she feels so thoroughly inspired by everyday! Email her at [email protected].
Editor: Sara McKeown