Books about yoga, meditation, My yoga teacher said...

Not now

I learned something new today. A cue to get your mind off of something, whether you’re fixated on the seven minutes you will be late getting to a meeting, or you’re trying to meditate. Whenever you are wondering, worried, or find your mind wandering, say to yourself: “Not now.”

You are going to be late, whether you worry or not. Bring yourself back to calm. “Not now.

Often in yoga, we say to focus on your breath to clear the head. But sometimes this becomes an overthinking about the breath. Not now. Don’t think about that now.

The technique was written about in Meditations on Intention and Being, by Rolf Gates, and my mentor gets 100% of credit for introducing this to me by reading the passage at the end of class today.

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Yoga to relieve stress

Staying Grounded in Times of Chaos

Today’s practice was a strain. I arrived to the studio very early. I had time to warm up and connect with the space. But my mind, oh, and my heart, both are so heavy right now. It is hard to read about what is happening and not think humanity is devolving into chaos. It makes me want to put my gloves on and fight! It also makes me want to hide under the covers.

This is not a political blog. With that being said, I am human, I am a parent, I am a woman, I am an American, and I am very unsettled by the current global and American sociopolitical climates. But this is not a political blog.The whole idea behind Slow Lotus is to bloom, grow, and find peace through yoga. This is a blog about practicing yoga.

So, how can we use yoga to remain grounded in chaotic times?

It might start with breathing. Taking time to notice the breath, to experience it. You do not need a special venue, to dress for exercise, or to know asanas to find peace via yoga… You need to breathe. Breathe like you were born doing. In, and then out. Then again, and again, and again. Like the sun delivers energy to Earth’s flora and fauna, the lungs deliver oxygen and life to our cells. Then add intention to the breath… this is yoga, becoming aware of the breath and intentionally taking a physical thing and tying it with the mind. Today, the few times I was able to quiet the jabber of worrisome thoughts, I reminded myself to breathe with the asanas, and those were the moments of clarity and calm.

I do not know much about the many forms of yogic breathing. I do think it will take a lifetime to learn them all and perhaps they can never be mastered.

I repeat, today’s practice was a strain. It feels so selfish. How privileged am I? I am able to leave my warm home, deliver my healthy, exuberant elder child to her safe and highly ranked public school. I can snuggle my healthy, growing toddler while delivering him to the nursery, before stashing my belongings in a locker and taking my place on the mat. I have this time to practice, this safe space, my relative health…

It feels so selfish. Until the old adage comes to me, “Put your oxygen mask on first.” There is a reason this is the rule if you are in flight and happen to come into chaos… without oxygen and breath, you will not survive to assist those around you who are less able to help themselves. So I will remind myself, when I feel like things are spinning out of control, my first response must be to breathe.

Notes on today’s practice
Attended an advanced class. It was a very sweaty, “twisty” session, but my mind was not focused and I was not breathing properly. Essential oil used during savasana: myrh, which Teacher L said was “used commonly for focus, meditation, and grounding.” Sometimes I feel like she is reading my mind.