April 15, 2014

The Yoga Mat: To and Fro.

A Missoula Smokejumper, Brandon Pema Kalsang, practices in front of the Missoula Smokejumper base

We all feel great after our practice in the classroom, blessed by the gift of being introduced to yoga, relaxed by what we have just experienced and amazed by what we have just witnessed. High on Endorphins!

And then off we go, to our daily lives, waking up early, going to work, long commutes, hectic traffic, pollution, noise, paying rents, bills, kids…it goes on and on and on.

We go through all that until the moment comes when we fall off the wagon and Bam! We snap…we scream, we cry, we curse! We become aware of the huge gap between a yoga class and our everyday lives. We wonder, “If only life could be as smooth as it is on the mat!”

But we must not forget that we also face challenges on the mat. We learn new ways to bring our bodies comfortably into asanas, we breathe into our physical tensions and pains, and we feel bored from staying for only few moments in a difficult pose or minutes in meditation.

But we endure all that until the moment when we literally crash on the ground and surrender our bodies in shavasana (the corpse pose) and we become relaxed again.

How do we go from here? How do we extend our mat to our stressful daily lives?

Establishing a home practice (even for five minutes) is necessary to cultivate patience, stamina and increased relaxation response. But we can also be more creative in fusing our on/off the mat states…

For example, when we’re trapped in traffic, annoyed by the honks, we can melt those sounds together in one sound, like a symphony, and breathe it out with the sound “Haaaaaa.” When we’re standing in line for a long time at the supermarket or the bank, we can stand tall in Tadasana (the mountain pose) and smile.

How about at work? When we’re sitting for long hours at our desk in front of our computer, we can engage your cores and twist. When we’re worrying too much about the uncertainties of the future, we can bring ourselves to the present moment by feeling and watching every breath.

The possibilities are endless, and all it takes is a few moments to unleash our creative genius and get our lives on track (and off the mat).

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Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons

Photo: Courtesy of the editor

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