You don’t need an expensive yoga mat to practice ♥
Students often ask me how they can succeed in their meditation practice. I understand where they are coming from but it shows a simple misunderstanding of what Silence is.
Often students will say ‘I tried very hard to relax and let go but it just wasn’t happening. My mind is too restless today and I can’t settle down.’
Can you force yourself to relax and let go?
Can you push through the busy mind and make it stop or slow down?
We often approach our yoga and mindfulness practice in the same way as we approach our life – setting goals, working towards outcomes and results. We monitor the outcomes closely and track how we are progressing.
It’s great working towards clear outcomes and seeing your progress. In your yoga practice you can see and experience changes happening in your body and it feels liberating and fun. You might be able to touch your toes after practicing for some time, or strengthen your core muscles and sit in Boat pose for 10 breaths, or walk up the stairs without loosing your breath. It feels great to see the results of your work.
But when it comes to mindfulness or meditation practice and being in Silence this approach can cause you a lot of frustration and confusion.
When you practice yoga or meditation you never start where you left off the last time. You experience changes within your body and mind from moment to moment. Some are very obvious, some are much more subtle. You arrive on your mat or cushion afresh every time – it’s a new day, a new moment, and a new experience.
However, your mind can tell you otherwise. It can tell you stories of how everything is the same all the time, how you are not good enough in this moment, how this moment is not right. The chattering of the mind is constant.
And here is the beauty and power of Silence – it offers you an opportunity to get to know yourself better. The stories your mind is telling, your emotional reaction to those stories, the habitual behaviours in reaction to those stories and feelings. The Silence offers you a chance to listen with kindness to the person you are with 24/7 and to build a better relationship with yourself. Would it not make sense to know the person you are with every single moment of your life?
Silence can show you how hard you are on yourself, how tired you are from too much work, how achy you are in your body. It can show you how irregular and shallow your breath is, and how much you are in your head and so little in your body.
Silence can show you also how vulnerable you feel, and how unsupported and stressed you are. It can reveal to you the wisdom that lies within you, your own inner knowing of what is right for you and what you are avoiding or resisting.
Silence can also show you what brings you joy, the warm feelings towards your loved ones, the care and kindness you feel towards others, and love you experience from them. It can show you the moments of ease in body and mind.
Without allowing time for Silence we just run around being busy and focused on getting results, getting more stressed and frustrated, and feeling detached from life happening around us. We forget that we live in our bodies and in this moment.
So yes – plan and work towards clear outcomes, getting great results and creating an abundant life for yourself AND also allow time for Silence in your busy life – that time to slow down and come home into yourself, creating more ease in your mind and body. And then notice how much more connection with self and others you begin to experience in your daily life.
I loved yoga from the first time I tried it at a studio in London 23 years ago. But for years I thought that unless I did an hours practice it was not worth doing and it would not be a ‘real practice’. Consequently due to working full-time as well as teaching at my studio on evenings and weekends, there wasn’t much time left for my yoga practice and I always felt I didn’t have enough time. I felt as though I wasn’t making enough of a commitment. I had this perception that unless I had at least 30 minute slot to practice, there wasn’t much point in rolling out my mat.
It wasn’t until I realised that I could simplify my yoga practice that I started to show up on my mat in a consistent daily way. Interestingly, it was though my deeper experience of Yin Yoga and the teachings of Sarah Powers, which changed my approach to my practice. Practicing yin yoga allowed me to feel more connected in my body, resulting in clearing my mind and settling my emotions. It enabled me to recognise my own patterns of behaviour, especially ‘all or nothing’ attitude. It’s so easy to apply the same ‘rules’ that we apply to our lives in general, with the belief that doing more is better!
My focus is always on how I can simplify what I’m doing – my practice, my life, my business – getting rid of unnecessary clutter, eliminating behaviours that drain me, and developing self-care that really works for me. I know that I needed different self-care at different stages of my life. My self-care needs were different when I worked at the crisis detox centre for drug users in London and are different now that I’m running a yoga wellness studio in Ramsgate. One thing that has remained consistent throughout is my passion for yoga.
I’d like to share some tips that really helped me with my yoga practice:
Being aware of how you are in the moment needs to inform your practice. You will know intuitively what your needs and limits are. It might feel like you want to do a lot of yang practice – strong flowing vinyasa, building the heat and strength in your body; or you might feel tired and in need to self-nourish and build up your energy, thus choosing to do more yin practice – staying in poses for up to 6 minutes, surrendering and letting go, simply experiencing your breath and the moment. Acknowledge how you feel and be gentle and kind with yourself.
Do some more yang poses and movements – sun salutations or vinyasa flow, and some yin poses – sitting or lying down and breathing deeply. More yang or yin – depending on your needs in that moment. Do some forward bends, side bends, back bends, twists and inversions. You can do them standing up, sitting down, lying down or do a combination of those. REMEMBER: practice to bring balance within your body, and move your spine in all directions:
Sometimes we tend to focus on what comes easily to us such as forward bends and avoiding practicing the poses that our body would benefit from, such as backbends or inversions.
Closing your practice in a purposeful way allows you to recognise that you showed up today – even if feeling tired or self-critical.
Your whole practice may take 10 minutes or it may take an hour an da half, however if you include those 3 steps – Mindful Check-in, Follow your body’s wisdom and move with your breath, and Closing – you will create your sacred space. It’s in those moments of being alone on your yoga mat that you face yourself fully and can connect deeply with yourself.
Come and join us for some workshops at Ramsgate Yoga Studio or connect with me online.
♥ ♥ ♥