March 9, 2014

Waking up to the Practice of Yoga. ~ Tammy Foley

meditate morning yoga mat window

The practice of yoga keeps us present; in our bodies; and able to cope with things that may have seemed previously unmanageable.

In today’s world, between conference calls, texting, voicemails, emails, and social media, we can be (and are most likely) hooked to technology 24/7. In all likelihood, many of us  are still connected on our days off and even during vacations.

We multitask because there aren’t enough hours in the day to get what we need accomplished. We are rarely, if ever, actually present, in the moment or in our bodies.

The practice of yoga is healing for mind, body and spirit. When we take the time for yoga daily, we’re simultaneously taking care of our physical, emotional and spiritual health. We’re giving ourselves over to something beyond our ego. There is no competition. No judgment.

As I practice yoga, my breath becomes a tool to calm, reflect, and respond. Yoga allows me to just be.

Getting up and beginning a yoga practice first thing in the morning (or at least very shortly after rising) is an effective way to be calmer; more productive; less stressed; and even more loving and compassionate throughout our day.

Studies show that it takes 21 days to start or break a habit. Why not start a habit that is good for you in all ways? A one hour yoga class is only four and a half percent of your day.

I challenge you to begin.

1.  Create a space.

Your space can be a room or even a corner of a room, but make it special. Lay out your mat. Place a candle on a shelf or table and add some things that mean something to you, such as a Buddha; Cross or Crucifix; Goddess; photo of your family; or even a picture of a dream or goal. Whatever makes the space feel sacred and special to you.

2 . Make yoga part of your morning ritual.

Go to your mat, hands in prayer position and sit. Notice your body and mind. See where that leads you. If you feel compelled to meditate, meditate. If your body is telling you to do five sun salutations, do them. Listen to your body and see where it takes you. Some days I may just sit in easy pose or savasana the entire time and that’s fine too.

3.  Stick to what you know.

In the beginning, simplicity is the key. It’s fine to do the same few poses over and over. As you gain experience and confidence, add more poses to your routine. When I first started my practice I would sometimes follow along to a DVD to help me learn more poses. If it feels right to you, using a class or sequence from a video may be helpful.

Your practice can be as long as it needs to be. Practice until you feel done. A studio class may be an hour or two but yours can be shorter or longer depending on your mood and energy level that day. Keep in mind that some days your energy level may be low and you may not feel like practicing, but yoga may be exactly what your body needs. A few rounds of sun salutations are invigorating enough to jump start anyone’s energy level.

4. Create your ideal soundscape.

Do you like music or silence? What do you like to listen to? Will it be distracting? For some people a rocking playlist is just the thing they need first thing in the morning, for others, exactly the opposite is true, silence is key.

I love practicing in silence but if I’m in particularly playful mood music can make an ordinary practice more fun. Play with the idea of sound and see what works best for you. Google “yoga playlist” and you will get all sorts of ideas.

5. Be open to meeting yourself where you are.

As you practice you will learn so much about yourself just by being quiet and taking the time to listen to what your body, mind and spirit have to say. It takes great courage to meet yourself on the mat everyday. Remember to acknowledge that effort and give thanks to the body, mind and spirit that enabled you to come to your mat and practice.

By choosing to practice yoga, you are choosing health and well-being.



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Editorial Assistant: Brandie Smith/Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo:  kahala/Flickr

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Tammy Foley