Monday, January 14, 2013

Yoga wisdom

(Statue on the lawn of the Winnetu Resort in Martha's Vineyard, my very favorite place to do yoga)

I'm a reluctant exerciser.  Left to my own devices, I'd be content to while away my spare hours in bed reading wonderful books.  But aging is not always a kind process and I feel myself slowing down and aching in places I've never noticed before.  I get tense and the stress builds up until I can barely handle myself (and neither can anyone else).  I've learned that I feel better when those endorphins kick in after a hike with the kids, a long prayer walk, or a short jog.  I love the bliss after an hour of yoga, a time when I feel tall for once, open, strong, flexible, and able to breathe deeply.  It's a shame that I forget those good feelings in between my workout sessions and so easily convince myself that I don't have the time or energy to hit the gym.  And we all pay the price.

I'm lucky that there's a twice-weekly yoga class at work this month that I can attend for free.  It's a sanctuary in my week, a bit of "otium sanctum" (when I take advantage of it).  I'm always a little envious of yoga instructors, always so toned and fit and impossibly flexible.  They are disciplined and yet they have an aura of peace and calm that points to a more free-spirited nature.  And their voices are always the most soothing, making instructions sound like poetry, and movements like mantras.  Today as I moved my body, the words flowed over me like epiphanies, reminders of what I need to carry with me in daily life.  Here's just a sample of what stuck today--

"Breathe.  Breathe like it's important."  (Isn't it strange that we have to be reminded to do this most natural, most automatic thing?  But once you breathe deeply and intentionally, you realize how infrequent this is.)

"Just be.  We are human beings, not human doings."  (Be still, and know that I am God...)

"Be present here, in this moment, for as long as it is.  We are not living in the past or the future, but in the now."  (How hard it is to be in the moment!  In the peacefulness of yoga I catch myself making to-do lists in my head and plans for after class.  Yet all we have is this moment.  Embracing now is a big component of happiness according to many studies.)

"Listen to your body."  (My body has been speaking loud and clear...thus the yoga.  The body is now happy.)

"Stop before it hurts."  (No pain, no gain does not apply.  If only this one was easily applicable to life in general.)

"Your thoughts set your intention, and this is where your energy goes.  Be conscious of your thoughts and send your energy where you need it."  (My energy is often wasted in fruitless worries and tangents.)

"We have to still the outside to appreciate the chaos on the inside."  (If it were as easy to still the inner self...)

"What intention do you bring to this practice?" (peace)

(So what is your intention for today?)

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