Breathe: The foundation of your practice is breath.
My personal Mantra and the best advice I can give to any student – whatever their experience or fitness. We begin each practice with a short pause, a moment of stillness to connect to the flow of your breath, to unfurl your lungs and channel the breath deeper within your core.
Your breath feeds your body oxygen and cleans your body of carbon dioxide. You’ve breathed almost every moment of your life since the day you were born so it can be a challenge to master your breath – but a rewarding one. If you’re ever in a pose that feels like a struggle check that you can still breathe deeply; if you can’t, just ease off and give yourself a little space; find the challenge that works best for you.
And take this off the mat: if you find yourself getting stressed or frustrated just take a long slow breath in, and a long slow breath out. It helps down-level the nervous system and bring you to a calmer state.
Feel: your body speaks to you at every moment, listening to it is a skill
As we work through the practice of Asana, the physical poses, we use our proprioception, awareness of the body’s spatial relationship to itself, and the way we use the body. Feeling for what you are doing will guide you, more so than copying what someone else is doing with their body.
We can use this feedback to learn more about how our body works, what challenges it, what feels too strong and what feels good. Feeling is the best tool you have to recognising whether you’re ‘getting’ a pose, just by listening to your intelligent body.
Even advanced practitioners can ‘numb out’, get into a pose and disconnect to what that pose is doing for us. Every time your mind starts wondering just guide it back – to the sensation of the breath, to where you feel the pose most strongly and then onward to be aware of your full physical self.
Relax: Everything’s fine
Yoga can be a retreat from every other aspect of your life – when everything in your world is turning upside down you can come to practice, unroll your mat and give yourself a little bit of freedom. The list of benefits derived from Yoga, for your mental and physical health are well documented, and immediately available. Yoga is great for being able to reduce stress and anxiety, to increase mindful awareness and presence within the moment, but like any other skill you get better at relaxing by practice.
When we come to Savasana, the resting pose, at the end of the practice you have the opportunity to release tension from your mind, body and breath. This process of relaxing can be unusual to start, the idea of laying down and not doing anything – not trying to sleep
And sometimes it’s harder than others; sometimes it’s difficult to switch off your mind and stop thinking about what you need to do, or you get distracted by some sound, or worrying about falling asleep, and then that makes you start doubting your ability to be able to do it ‘right’ and you feel you are wasting your time and – relax. Every time you find that your mind is acting as its own distraction do your best to let go, and if that doesn’t work, allow the mind to wander, let it off the leash and find out where it ends up. Relaxation shouldn’t be something you worry about.
Hope to see you soon,