Modern yoga has evolved with a focus on exercise, strength, flexibility, and breathing. In many cases, Yoga is still reduced to a fitness program.
Yoga is far more than a workout. It’s a mind-body EXPERIENCE. What we learn on the mat we can apply into our daily lives.
This week, I would like to share with you 7 ways to extend your practice beyond the mat, one principle every day.
#1 PRESENCE. Present in the body. Present with Others.
Do you ever catch yourself glazing over whilst in conversation with a friend? Or thinking about what to make for dinner in savasana? Or being somewhere and watching the clock, wishing you were somewhere else? We’ve all been there, maybe even every day.
To be present means to be focussed solely on what is happening in the here and now, without concerning yourself with the past or the future; it’s the simple act of being, which for most, isn’t easy.
Yoga practice teaches us how to be fully present, and the benefit of full presence occurs in asana and attentive breath.
Presence in yoga is centered on the reality of the body. Thus the body is a tool because the body doesn’t lie or deceive in the same way as the mind. If you are experiencing stress the body registers that experience.
Yoga uses the simple clarity of the body as a means to bring the mind into presence. Rather than just dictating actions to the body, the authentic yoga practice teaches the mind how to listen to the body, with awareness, and, without judgment or expectation. When your shoulder or hip is tight, you accept that it is tight and learn to practice without any attachment to the goal of opening your shoulder/hip. You learn to experience the present moment as it really is naturally unfolding in the field of your own body.
After a while, you learn to cultivate this presence on the mat and you will notice that it doesn’t evaporate when you put your street clothes back on and step outside. You learn to be more present with others, to listen with the intention to understand, not to reply. Because, when we are engaged in a conversation and we listen to the other person, but we start thinking about our next reply, we are simply missing out. We are not there, we are not present.
While other people’s words or concerns may not matter to us quite as much as our own, one of the greatest services we can provide is to drop our own thoughts and desires and give ourselves fully to others.
Remember that you, as well as your friends and other people you encounter in your life, deserve your full attention.
We enjoy life when we fully dive into the experience.