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Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

We’re coming up on the halfway point for 2015, and it seems like things have really gotten busy. My prediction for this year was that the currents of life would be more like rapids, speeding forward in potentially chaotic ways. I felt as though, if we could keep our oars in the water, these rapids could carry us more quickly toward our goals. But if we let ourselves slip out of that current, then we could get swept suddenly askew.

I haven’t always kept my oars steering me in the right direction. I’ve certainly devoted more energy than needed in spinning around in circles a few times. But I feel as though I’m getting myself back into my groove, and it’s easier when I stop to breathe and forgive myself for going a little astray.

One practice that’s helping me is conscious relaxation. I remember what it’s like to be floating down a river, or in a soothing bath, just relaxing into the water. I imagine the gentle buoyancy holding me afloat, and I allow that sensation to flow through me, releasing the tension. I remember that my muscles don’t need me to hold them together through tension and pinching, and breathe deeply as I let go of that tension.

I haven’t been as dedicated with my yoga, and I let my mental habits tense me up more than I ought. But when I find myself tensing more as I upbraid myself about those lapses, I practice the buoyancy, and let it all go. My body has many years of practice in holding itself together, and it’s helping to free up that energy so I can use it to keep myself steady on this rolling, churning river of life.

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A couple hours ago, I enjoyed talking with a young man who was under 25. He expressed a fear of growing older, and my friend who’s just over 25 suggested it’s better than the alternative of dying young. I also pointed out that growing older is pretty awesome. You get to learn so much more about yourself and how wonderful you are, and gain privileges of age and experience.

I also suggested picking up yoga, as you are only as young as your spine is flexible. The main thing though is keeping the right perspective. The whole point of life is experiencing it as fully as you can, and learning how better to experience as the years go by. There’s no reason to dread the trip, and also no reason to rush it.

You carry your life inside you. So long as you live, you can’t lose it, and nobody can take it from you. You can just choose not to enjoy it, or you can choose to let it live you to the fullest.

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I’ve had so many thoughts throughout the day that I wanted to remember to post… and now not a one of them will come to me.  Instead, I’ll share what happened to me just a couple of hours ago.

Last night, I got to enjoy a bit of massage that touched on knots and pressure points I’d never encountered before. It helped release that tension, but also left my muscles a bit unsteady (in part because I didn’t think to do an epsom salt soak afterward). So I was pretty careful today, doing my usual stretching routine very carefully, skipping anything extra, and not taking the stairs.

Then, while chasing and being chased by our new puppy, I partially wrenched a leg and an ankle. Then, my back started to tense up as I tried to compensate, and now I’m going to go take that soak. Nothing’s really damaged, but everything is sore.

This just sort of feels like a metaphor to me. When we work through things and find ourselves “clearing out” and “letting go”, we should be gentle with ourselves, even in our play. It can surprise us how we can suddenly find something twisted up in a way we hadn’t expected, because we hadn’t been in that exact condition before.

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I’ve still got that cough, and it occurs to me that I should probably summarize the cleansing breath that I mentioned in my last post, instead of just linking to a page that may not always be there.

The cleansing breath is a great way to nourish your mind and body with pure oxygen, and help your lungs clear out gunk and toxins. It’s great to do first thing in the morning, last thing at night, right before eating, before and after yoga or exercise, and frankly whenever you feel like it. Oxygen is pure life force, and we deserve to breathe in as much as we can remember to.

It’s good to do the cleansing breath standing up, but any generally relaxed position will do. First, exhale as much as you can, compressing your lungs to clear out the old air. Then, breathe in not-too-quickly, filling your lungs right up with air. Hold it for just a little while.

If your lungs are gunky or “stale”, you might cough a bit while you’re holding your breath up to the top of your lungs. That’s fine, clear it out, then try again. After holding the air just a bit, start to force the air out through pursed lips, keeping your cheeks pulled in (as opposed to puffed out, that is). Force the air out in short bursts, pulsing your diaphragm so that it compresses your lungs progressively from the bottom to the top.

If you’re like me, as the “short bursts” start to compress the air out from near the top of your lungs, that’s when you’re really likely to cough if you have anything to clear out. Light, shallow coughs can help the process of using the air to clean out your lungs. Just pay attention to your body and follow its cues. Don’t force anything unnatural, but don’t resist anything natural, either.

Hopefully this helps convey my understanding of the cleansing breath. May it serve you well!

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It occurred to me today that I’m doing it again. I’ve hit a very busy and taxing time at work and at home, which means more stress and less energy. These are exactly the times I need to make sure to pull back for a bit at key points during the day, to stretch and relax and regroup.

Do you know what I tend to forget to make time for when I’m busy trying to keep up with a very taxing and stressful time…?

I’ve resolved to get back to my schedule starting tomorrow. It’s the only way I’ll be able to maintain the flexibility I need to get through this current time-tunnel and make it out fantastic on the other side.

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Today, my moment of zen was while I was doing yoga, even though I really didn’t feel like it. I’ve been mostly good so far about stopping to take a break during the day, even though I’ve been busy. Today I was super busy, and haven’t been feeling very well.

I realized that these are exactly the times I need to pause, take a deep breath, and stretch out.

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I am quite a fan of breathing meditation, particularly ones where you visualize white or golden light entering with your breath.  You then imagine that gold light flowing in through your lungs and to your heart, where it stays for a moment while you hold the breath.  (If you can’t or don’t want to hold your breath for a second or more, it can stay there while you exhale, and then glows more brightly as you add to it another breath.)  Then, as you exhale, the golden light flows to a part of you that needs attention or healing, or even just pumps outward from your heart, mingling with your bloodstream to nourish your whole self.

This is a little meditation that’s worth the practice, and can be done with half a mind while walking, doing dishes, driving, and so on.  The more you do it, the more you’ll find ways it works for you, and helps you better master being in your own skin.

There’s a great healing power in focusing on your breath.  As you bring in more oxygen, your body is nourished.  As you breathe deeply and rhythmically, your emotions are balanced.  As you focus on your breath and your heart, your mind is calmed and more receptive to the answers you need.  In this more-centered space, you’ll find insights if you practice patiently opening yourself to the golden flow of intentional breath.

This is one key to the heart of wisdom.

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