Do you ever get stressed out on your commute? Rush hour traffic, delays, packed out trains, platforms, tourist and people walking too slow! At times just getting to work can be unpleasant and doesn't exactly help us get our day off to a great start.
So what can we do? If leaving before or after rush hour isn't an option and we must navigate through the dreaded tube or subway system we can try our best not be reactive to all the stress and energy around us. One of the simplest things we can do is breath awareness and infact this simple exercise is great for all stressful situations whether we are stuck in traffic or having heated debate. Both external stressors and our emotions and state of mind affect our breath.
How to practice breath awareness on the train...
Breath awareness exercises can be refined over time. After a while you may start slipping it into your daily routine, allowing you to stay calm and centered.
Until Next time.. Happy Commuting
We all have different patterns and relationships with our Yoga practice. Maybe we practice once or twice a week. Maybe we go through periods of practicing and going to class or self practice everyday and then go through a time of yoga drought for long periods of time. What if it gradually becomes harder to motivate yourself to get on the mat? All of these things are normal. The question is how can we ensure we build a loving, rational, steady and long lasting relationship with our Yoga practice? Below are a few attitudes we can be taking during our Yoga practice, that are sure to keep you in a great and loving relationship with your practice, your body and yourself.
Congratulate yourself for getting on to your mat, whether it be at home or in a class. Showing up to practice is the most important step you can take. Sometimes it's not easy. A million things on the 'to do list', feeling tired, feeling unmotivated, there can be so many physical and phycological hurdles to jump over until we finally arrive on our Yoga mat. Then from the moment you begin, give yourself a big and wholehearted 'well done', after all what could be more important than taking time for you to look after your body and soul.
Unconditinally listen, appreciate and love your body
Listen and appreciate your body as it is today. Maybe it feels tired, tight or sore. Maybe it feels great. Either way do not expect, demand, ignore or judge your body during your class. Yoga aims to firstly connect, become aware and accept. After this, a way to transform into the expression of the posture will surely arrive. Image if one day you can easily touch your toes, then the next day you can not. The most loving and Yogic way to go about this is to simply accept that today you are in a different place. Enjoy that new place and the different stretch. Don't ignore the facts and force yourself to go further which could leave you feeling like a failure which certainly is not achieving anything good. Love, accept and enjoy your body in each posture, no matter what. This is surely key to a loving, long lasting and fruitful relationship to your Yoga practice.
No competitions and no judgements, just be as you are
Never compare yourself to other people in your class, pictures or videos on social media or yourself as you where 10 years ago. A yoga class or practice should be a space where you feel you can focus on you. What others think and what others can and cannot do is completely irrelevant You are there to enjoy, breath and feel good for yourself. Yoga is not a competition and you should not allow yourself to feel judged by yourself. Rest assured that your teacher will not be judging you as they will know and understand the Yoga ethics. Be kind to yourself always. Checkout our article about Ahimsa.
'To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.' Thich Nhat Hanh
Smile, shine and be happy!
Yoga can seem oh so serious at times! You know it is absolutely ok and fantastic to smile and even have a giggle at yourself. Allow yourself to feel good in a pose, breath deeply and express the pose to your full potential, which includes your whole wonderful being. No need to shy away and shrink your body in the corner, you are here now and you are wonderful. Send yourself love, approval and positive vibes during your practice and you will feel how your body responds in amazing ways. If you notice any negative thoughts, congratulate yourself for noticing and replace with far more useful self approval and love!
'You are amazing, just the way you are' Bruno Mars ;)
The other day someone in class asked about what kind of diet supports a physical Yoga practice and I replied by saying that the Yogic diet is Sattvic. A diet of whole foods, veggies and unprocessed foods keeps the body light and limber. However we are not living on a mountain top with our guru, practicing Yoga every morning and mediating for 5 hours a day. We are living in bustling cities. We have jobs, responsibilities and busy lives.
This whole conversation got me thinking about the 3 Gunas which I remember reading about many years ago from the first Yoga book I ever had. "The New Book of Yoga" - from the Sivanada Yoga Centre.
So what are the Gunas? Basically the Gunas are three different types of energy. All three of these energies are present within us and our enviroment. The book above has a beautiful explanation of how this applies to apples.
Sattvic - Purity
Rajasic - Passion
Tamasic - Inertia
“The Gunas ... successively dominate, support, activate, and interact with each other. Sattva is buoyant and shining. Rajas is stimulating and moving. Tamas is heavy and enveloping.” - Ishvarakrishna Samkhyakarika,
I really loved learning about the Gunas and using them to identify different aspects of myself such as environment, food and lifestyle choices I make . For example I know I have a lot of rajasic qualities, I'm very passionate about things, I love tea,coffee and salty food. I'm pretty hyperactive and have crazy energy sometimes almost burning myself out. So I know I need to nuture other sides of myself. Eating healthy foods and slowing down can help me be more grounded and relaxed.
Remembering that all three qualities are present in all things and anyone in excess could bring us way off balance. I don't think Tamasic is bad and Sattvic is good and Rajasic is something in between they just are what they are. To me they are useful and a simple way to look at things to help make healthy and positive choices in our lives.
In terms of food choices, I think it is pretty much common sense. Wholefoods and vegetables give us energy. Spicy, salty food might make us more 'spicy' and passionate, arousing the senses (especially the taste buds!). Heavy foods, alcohol and eating too much can make us sluggish and lazy. But as our dad says....
A little bit of everything is okay. - Tswayuki Saotome
Thanks for reading. We love to hear what you think about this post. You can leave comments below.
Have you ever taken a Yoga class and felt so happy that you achieved a new pose? Or felt amazing that you were stronger or more flexible? But what happens when the thing you did last week doesn't happen today? Struggling to achieve the amazing Yoga pose we did last week or maintain a certain "level" of practice could leave us feeling frustrated, unsatisfied and defeated :(
"There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness, therefore acquire contentment" Swami Sivananda
Its easy to feel wonderful when things are going well. The problem can be when we get too attached to that. Maybe we go back to a class to get that same good feeling and then its not the same. We might not feel great, wobble all over the place, feel irritated by others around us or ourselves and our body.
We can so easily come out of being present and go to a place of judging ourselves. After all we come from a culture of being judged very often, grades at school, college, university, assessed in our workplace and finances and probably worst of all by ourselves. But fret not friends....the answer lies in 'Santosha'
Santosha is one of the Niyamas (a kind of ethical code towards yourself in Yoga). It means Contentment. Santosha helps us to be at peace with what is here now. Being present in our Yoga practice means accepting the way our body is today rather than wishing it was how it was 2 weeks ago, 5 years ago or 6 months into the future. Mentally cursing out your tight hamstrings is not the way to path to happiness. Practicing contentment means dropping the judgements, pressure and negative mind chatter and replacing it with love, self acceptance and honour for our bodies.
Remember if you are city dwellers like us life is always go, go, go. Practicing contentment on the Yoga mat can give us that unconditonal safe space to check in and come home to ourselves. Remember, contentment in Yoga isn't something that needs to be achieved it is something we can allow. Santosha-Contentment can keep our Yoga journey full of happiness, peace and joy! Om Shanti!
There are so many benefits of going to a regular Yoga class but sometimes life happens and we can't make it. As we practice more regularly we become more aware of how we are feeling and reacting to things. In a home practice we can choose what our body needs in that particular day or moment. Here are a few tips to getting started and staying consistent in your home practice.
Anahata is the fourth main energy centre in the body according to the chakra system. It is located in the centre of the chest and is all about love. When this energy centre is unbalanced we maybe closed emotionally, fearful or hold resentment towards others. When we connected to our heart chakra we can experience joy , happiness, compassion and unconditional love.
Imagine you are frightened of something and notice what happens to your body as you feel this emotion. You might start to close in on yourself, bring your shoulders forward into protection mode. Now imagine walking around like that all day! Its not fun. Now imagine a loved one coming towards you and opening your arms wide to embrace them, or lifting your chest up to the sky on a summers day to receive the healing energy of the sun. Opening up your chest invokes such a wonderful feeling within us and in our physical yoga practice backbends are the king(or Queen) for opening up the heart. Upward facing dog, cobra, camel and bow pose are just a few feel good poses that get the heart energy open and flowing!
Here are some other simple tips to help feel the L.O.V.E!!
As we strive to keep up with our Yoga practice, what can we do to ensure our intentions and efforts will last a lifetime? We would like to share with you something that we think is key to keeping up, enjoying and fully benefiting from a regular Yoga practice.
The word Yoga means union, union of the body, mind and soul. The physical practice of Yoga as we know it, is actually just a small part of many elements that make the bigger picture of 'Yoga' There are many moral underpinnings of Yoga, one of which is Ahimsa- अहिंसा; Non harming and the practice of kindness to yourself and others.
Have you ever found yourself doing the following in a Yoga class, or even in your day to day life?
'Ahimsa is the highest ideal. It is meant for the brave, never for the cowardly'