Inhale / Exhale….

“Yeah, I’m into Yoga” I declare. “I have a regular Asana practice and I live my life in a yogic manner”…..and yet sometimes I feel like a fraud when I say this as I don’t practice every day. I have been practising yoga on and off for most of my adult life, and in 2009 I did a teachers training course. Now I probably do one yoga holiday a year, I do a little at home, go to at least two classes a week at my gym, and when around newbies I look like a seasoned yogini. But I’ll be honest there are days where my focus is on the shopping I have to do later, or how much my toes need a pedi. But even if I miss a class here or there, or don’t live up to my own expectations of daily sun salutations, I know I can’t go more than three days without a bend and a stretch. Its now built in to my routine and the fabric of my life.

When I first started attending yoga classes I found savasana (thats the relaxy bit at the end) the hardest part of the class, my mind was not still, my body didn’t know how to let go on demand. Nowadays I find it a most welcome pause in my day and an essential part of using my energy and resources efficiently. I have learned how to relax, and whilst it didn’t come easy for me, I have taken that capability off the mat and into my everyday life by scheduling in doses of relaxation and ‘me time’.  AND, I really ENJOY it. I am able to fully let go knowing I have allotted time for it. There are no longer feelings of guilt, I don’t whip myself with the label of lazy, as I now know how important down time is, and how it serves me long term. I no longer suffer from burn out; being ill on every break I had was becoming a theme. I have much more balanced energy levels, whereas before it was ALL or NOTHING, now I have peaks and troughs but not valleys and mountains.

There are other ways I try to bring my yogic practice into my daily life;

I really try to live my life moment to moment, focus on the here and now, but it’s not easy. I drift off into fantasy, plan ahead and forget to enjoy right now. I take things and people for granted and often have to remind myself to breathe. In yoga we have Drishti, a point of focus where the gaze rests during asana and meditation practice. Focusing on a drishti aids concentration, since it is easier to become distracted when the eyes are wandering all over the room. Each yoga pose has a specific drishti, which also aids in alignment. The same can be said in daily life. I like to take a moment to think about what my focus or gaze will be set on for the day or tasks ahead of me.

Pranayama is control of Breath. “Prana” is breath or vital energy in the body and “ayama” means control. So Pranayama is “Control of Breath”. Breath is integral. I never used to think about controlling it, I just took it for granted that my instincts and lungs would do the work. Now though, I often use my breath to calm myself down, or buy myself some time. Not just in moments of panic and anger but also in moments of happiness and joy, I try and breathe into them, savouring every bit. Pranayama can be very powerful, and it is is advised to learn from a teacher rather than doing yourself harm. That said, just taking time to notice your breath, subtlety elongating your exhalation so that your inhalation and exhalation are of a more even length and consistency is a great start.

How do you incorporate yoga into your daily life? What’s changed for you since you started practising yoga? Get in touch, let me know…