Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Relax and Quiet the Mind

Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.  ~Patanjali, translated from Sanskrit

This subject arose last night after class with a student. I thought I would share my thoughts with you here. There is nothing more tranquil than quieting the mind. It is within these rare moments that we feel true inner peace. I cannot count how many times I've unrolled my mat, and allowed my inner chattering to dominate my practice. It's like listening to the constant cackle of a hen. I think Ellen best sums it up with this quote:

I was in yoga the other day.  I was in full lotus position.  My chakras were all aligned.  My mind is cleared of all clatter and I'm looking out of my third eye and everything that I'm supposed to be doing.  It's amazing what comes up, when you sit in that silence.  "Mama keeps whites bright like the sunlight, Mama's got the magic of Clorox 2."  ~Ellen DeGeneres

Seriously, it happens.

For some people meditation and relaxation is simple. For others, they find it difficult to turn it off. There have been times during relaxation when I've actually fallen asleep. Which on the flip side, is not productive for the practicing yogi. It just means I need to get a good night's rest. 

Relaxation or quieting the mind is beneficial in how one's mind processes thought. Think about it; if you can train your mind to stop, listen, and focus, imagine how productive you could be! Wouldn't it be nice to be able to think rational when your hectic, crazy world takes a hold of you by the neck and squeezes? 

Here's an easy method for you to try:

Sitting (so you don't fall asleep!) in a comfortable chair or on your yoga mat just breathe. Close your eyes. Inhale through your nose and exhale with exaggeration through your mouth. Take a few of these cleansing breaths, letting go of your daily stresses. Set your stresses out beside you for a few moments. Yes, they'll still be there when you get up, but dealing with them should come easier afterwards. 

Next slow your breathing down to normal, inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Sit up nice and tall, relaxing the shoulders so they're not bunched up next to your ears. When a thought about your day arises, acknowledge it and then send it out to the floor beside you. Don't judge yourself about these thoughts;don't try to analyze them, just set them aside. As each thought (even those about using Clorox 2) comes to your mind, set it aside.

Breathe. Relax. Feel the tension leaving your body, mind, and soul.

Stay there until the inner chatter quiets. One trick is to count your breath. Inhale 1, exhale 2, inhale 3, exhale 4 and so on. This method works if you cannot control setting aside your thoughts.

Give yourself 3-5 minutes of quietness, and then mentally gather all your thoughts and tuck them back inside your mind. Hopefully, you should feel peaceful and calm; you should feel capable of tackling whatever comes your way. Congratulate yourself.

As does most things, relaxation takes practice. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again! It'll happen. The mind is powerful; it's up to you to control it. When we finally relax the mind, we can unite the mind with our body and spirit. Hence the word union in the meaning of yoga.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ideas for the Traveling Yogini

The yoga corner of my bedroom has been growing over the past few weeks. I've been collecting mats, blocks and straps for my students. As I sit and stare at the pile of loot, I wonder how I will pack it for traveling. Eight arms would be nice right about now. Should I invest in a wagon to drag it all? Would a wagon even fit in the trunk of my Jetta? 

A large tote may work or an oversized duffel bag. If you have a good idea, comment below and let me know. This traveling yogini needs to pack 10 mats, 5 blocks, a bag full of straps and a computer + speakers. I'd love to hear from you!