Step #1 How to Bring Mindfulness to Your Mat
Do you ever feel like you are just going through the motions in life? Wake up, work out, eat, work, eat, work, eat, sleep, repeat? Maybe you even catch yourself going on autopilot when you come to yoga class. Sure, your body is there (and you’ve got the pile of sweat to prove it!) but your mind is checked out…You go from Tadasana to Savasana without really tapping into your breath or finding that sense of inner calm you are seeking. Maybe you find yourself coming to class daily and yet you don’t feel like you’re progressing the way you’d like to be or worse, you’ve lost the passion for your practice.
Live moves fast and sometimes it’s tough to remain present- truly present – when we’ve got so many things coming at us. I love an intense, sweaty, heart-pumping Vinyasa Flow as much as the next yogi but if your goal is to deepen your practice, “harder, faster, stronger” alone will not get you there anytime soon. Each asana or posture is a complex and beautiful structure. The bottom of the pose – whether that be on foot, hand or both – is a strong and specific foundation from which all the other body parts align. Each asana provides us with a new opportunity to find that delicate balance between effort and ease. Without a firm understanding of the architectural design of the postures, it is nearly impossible to find that sense of ease because it’s being so strongly outweighed by your effort.
When you deeply understand the poses – and how they link together – things start to click into place. Your bones stack up neatly to support your frame. You have to put forth much less muscular effort to hold your body in space. Your eyes can stop darting around the room for guidance and can instead settle on a drishti point. Your body starts to become strong and confident instead of shaky and unsure. You understand how to use props and modify intelligently to support your unique structure and are thus less injury prone. Your conscious mind hones in on the minute details of your alignment when it used to just check out and wait for the pose to end. When that happens, you start to feel it: easeful. Present. Able to breath fully, slowly, deeply. Able to direct your attention to your breath rather than just trying your best to keep up with the flow. Your asanas become, as Iyengar says, “containers for your breath.”
And why is this important? Easy! Yoga is not just exercise. It is a form of meditative movement that allows us to tap into that elusive internal landscape known as mindfulness. Being here now. Thinking about one thing at one time, instead of letting the mind wander and race. At first, the precise and careful alignment of your postures will become the single-pointed focus. As you continue to study, the alignment points become second nature and boom – you’re there. In a moment of complete presence and clarity. A feeling that we so rarely feel in our tech-heavy, fast-paced, distracting modern lives.
Flow Fundamentals Class and Workshop
We happen to have a new Flow Fundamentals class that is great for beginners or those with recent or recurrent injuries to apply this mindfulness. This class is also great for the intermediate and advanced student who wants to fine tune or enliven their practice. Ask any yoga teacher and they’ll tell you the same: we never stop going to Fundamentals classes because there is always something new to learn. A tiny nuance to gain that will bring a fresh understanding to an old familiar pose. You can work on Tadasana til you’re old and gray and still never be done.
Flow Fundamentals is held: Saturday morning at 8am in the Backstage Studio – Come and yoga-geek out with us!
Back To School: An Absolute Beginners Workshop is held: Saturday 9/20 from 1:30-3:30pm. Go deeper by joining us for two straight hours of nitty gritty asana exploration. This is the place to ask those questions you are thinking during your R1 classes. See your yoga practice with a fresh pair of eyes and breathe new life into your flow.
Meet the Author: Amanda is one of the newest faces here at Reyn Studios. Amanda is currently developing a community building portal for yogis called The Social Sutras and was recently featured in a 34-part Yoga For Beginner series on About.com. She is a Healthy Living Blogger for The Huffington Post and lives in the Bywater with her husband Paul and her dog Lala.