My high school English teacher used to say, “Stop the world—I want to get off.” Although I thought it was funny, as a 16-year-old, I did not really understand it. Now, as an adult with a husband and two boys of my own, I get it.
I am not against technology but in our always-on-Facebook/twitter/iPhone world, there is very little true downtime. There is a pervasive sense of always being rushed—rushing in the morning to get the kids ready for school, rushing to work, rushing to the grocery store, rushing to pick the kids up from school, rushing to activities, lessons, to make dinner, to clean up, to get the kids (and ourselves) to bed… to wake up and do it all again.
Rewind to 1998. Before kids, even before marriage. Tight hips caused by distance running urged me into a yoga studio. I had tried yoga a few times but found it too slow. This time, I entered with an open mind. The class was great. I found half pigeon pose (Ardha Kapotasana) to ease my tight hips.
But what really got me was Savasana, or final relaxation. At the end of class, the teacher said, “Just lie still for five minutes. Focus on your breath, and let go of your thoughts.” What? Be still? No thoughts? But I have to complete that proposal for tomorrow, pick up my dry cleaning and. . . Okay, I’ll try.
The challenge of being still was almost too much for my driven, Type A personality, but I tried. And I went back again. And again. While I loved the physical aspects of the practice, I knew I needed the mental benefits.
Yoga is about paying attention. Paying attention to my breath, my body and being in the moment. When we slow down and listen to our breath and feel our bodies move, we are more likely to eat better, drink more water and take better care of ourselves.
Yoga can help alleviate this rushed feeling by connecting us with our breath. This simple morning exercise may not stop the world, but it sets a calm yet energetic tone for the day.
Every morning when I wake up, I stretch for a moment before getting out of bed. Connecting with my breath, I bring myself present and feel grateful for the day ahead.
I take a few moments to stretch my body. I Inhale, and reach my arms overhead. Exhale and fold forward. Clasp opposite elbows and gently sway from side to side.
Releasing my hands to the floor, I bend my knees and step back, coming to all fours. I sit my hips back over my heels, coming into child’s pose. Allowing myself to feel grounded and secure, I take five deep breaths here.
If I have more time, I may do a longer practice, for 45 minutes or an hour.
I thank my body, and begin my day.
Author: Lea Grimaldi
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Anne Wu/Flickr