Listen to your body – Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But for some of us, even being aware of being in our bodies has been a challenge. Take, for example, me being over-weight much of my life. My body was not a place I wanted to be, because then I might notice that I didn’t like what it looked like. It took the first 10 years of my Spiritual life plus 5 years of karate training (ages 45-50) to get me inside my body in a productive way… And it takes a good bit of yoga, meditation and healing practice to keep me there and comfortable even now. And don’t even get me started on how religion often tells us that the body is nasty, evil and/or sinful. Your body is the vehicle that is carrying around your beautiful Soul, your piece of God. It is the Temple of the Spirit and don’t let anybody tell you different! Once we start treating our bodies as temples, we can love them (regardless of their size and shape) and learn to listen to their wisdom. Then we realize that a body aligned with Spirit is wise and we know that when our body says, “Don’t do it” …you don’t do it. This works for the food we take in, the energy we give out and the choices we make that either help us or hurt us in life.
Rest is another thing that goes right along with listening to your body. It seems self-evident, but hear me when I say… When you have worked hard and your body is tired, let it rest. We live in a culture that pushes us to the brink of exhaustion every chance it gets… Spiritually, emotionally, physically and psychologically, so it’s important to get enough rest. In yoga, at the end of each session, we lie down on the mat to rest, which also lets the positive impact and energy of the session settle into our bodies. Same goes for sleep, which is when we heal and recharge. Just remember, if sleep wasn’t important, we wouldn’t spend one-third of our lives doing it!
Balance is important – This is not only about the kind of balance it takes to stand on one foot, touch your finger to your nose and sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic at the same time. In yoga we create balance by doing the same thing on both sides of the body… We deliberately balance one side with the other. In our daily lives we might try balancing all the negative things we say to ourselves with some positive input whenever possible. For example, “You’re so stupid… Why did you do that?” needs at least a few positive phrases, said with gentle sincerity, in order to create balance.
Un-sass your hips – I have no idea what life lesson we can learn from this… I just like how it sounds 😊 and my yoga teacher says it all the time.
Breathe into it – When we come to a point of discomfort in yoga practice, we are reminded to breathe into it. This involves turning our attention toward the discomfort and offering it soothing breath and loving compassion until the discomfort lessens. Turning toward a struggle may seem counter-intuitive, since we tend to want to run away from it, but the first step in healing is to acknowledge what needs to be healed.
I can’t tell you how many times this tiny practice has come in handy in my life… When my body hurts, when my heart hurts… When I was in the hospital trying not to die 10 years ago and the only way I could get through all those awful tests was to close my eyes, go inside and breathe loving-kindness into my sick and aching body. The next time you are struggling in body, mind or emotion, take a moment and breathe into it. Send it some sweet lovin’ and then just “feel and breathe” until you get through it.
Eyes on your own mat – How often do we cause problems for ourselves and others because we start paying more attention to what they are doing, which means we are paying less attention to what we are doing ourselves. Wouldn’t life be grand if we all paid more attention to our own moves, the things we actually have the Power to impact, and let everybody else tend to their own lives.
The lesson in my class today was, “Perfection is a thing of the mind, not the heart.” When she read this at the end of class, I immediately started flipping back through the times in class I thought about how bad I must look in this particular position and what if somebody in class notices how I look and… blah… blah… blah. Then I stopped, because that is all ego and no humility… and a total waste of energy.
Have you ever noticed how often little children stop themselves from squealing at the sheer joy of being alive because they might not look good doing it? The answer is NEVER! Children experience life from the freedom of the heart and approach everything with curiosity. What a great word… Curiosity. Let’s do that today!
Please try this at home!
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