How you practice your yoga and live your practice is much more meaningful than which yoga asanas or postures you can or cannot do. Over the almost four decades and various life stages that I have sustained my yoga practice, I have come to realize that great symmetry has been created between my life on and off the mat. My practice and life merged into a single path. I have always been inspired to stay connected to the authentic yoga principles, philosophies and practices, and to live a life infused with spirituality. My teaching has reflected this for in my YogaBuds studio I have tried to illuminate for my students – kids, teens and adults – how the yoga practice can become intrinsically bound to every aspect of life.
YogaBuds Teaching and Mindfulness
Through my teaching, my students are given insights into the important messages and lessons of yoga. I often share personal stories about living a yogic lifestyle and describe how to carry your yoga with you throughout your day and into your life always. Developing a mindful awareness to our actions and thoughts is key for integrating yoga into our lives. The ultimate goal of yoga is to quiet the mind. Through the combination of yoga practice and mindfulness, students are guided to quiet their mind and be fully present. In class students have many opportunities to observe the multiple distractions running through the mind, to practice grounding, connecting to the breath, and drawing the attention back into the present moment.
Increasing self-awareness of one’s posture and understanding the relevance of good posture for overall health is a key component of the YogaBuds curriculum. Students are encouraged to pay attention to their postural habits including how and where tension is held. With mindful awareness and positive intentions one can pay attention wherever one is – seated at a desk or in a chair, while driving or on the computer or even while waiting in line – and create improvements by changing old habits. Students are taught how to implement simple modifications if for example the chest is concave, the neck is bent forward, or the body weight is unevenly distributed. One of the most important outcomes of these improvements is undoing the detrimental and cumulative effects of technology on posture and the prevention of future health issues.
The first Yama: Ahimsa
All yoga practice has its foundation in the first yama: Ahimsa. Ahimsa means non-violence and compassion. We should strive to keep this in word, thought and action. When we successfully do this, life and practice align. This is yoga. We can make a choice to remain conscious of this and practice this both on and off the mat. We can choose to be thoughtful, friendly, courteous, non-harming and non-judgmental and demonstrate loving kindness to all: family, friends, strangers and most important, to our selves. I believe that when we remain cognizant of this very important yama, or tenet of yoga, and practise Ahimsa, we will feel a sense of abundance and gratitude. This then leads to a sense of well-being, and a profound feeling of wholeness, contentment and joy.
Accepting our limitations and moving forward
Daily living, stress and personal anxieties combined with the aging process provides us with ample opportunities to manage the unexpected and unwelcomed changes that life regularly brings forth. These challenges may include mental or physical health issues, injuries, conditions, loss and pain. Learning to accept our limitations and adapt and adjust to them while on the mat teaches us to also do this when confronted with other challenges off the mat. Through the ongoing practice of asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing) and dhyana (meditation), we learn how to create stability in our body and steadiness in our mind, and experience a sense of inner spaciousness and stillness, first in the studio and then out in our lives.
Indeed, yoga is invaluable for learning how to stay present with the ride and how to be accepting of whatever unfolds. Through commitment and devotion to our yoga practice we can derive the many physical, mental and energetic benefits of this timeless tradition. We are capable of accessing calm in the chaos. An open road lies ahead and we can thankfully take our yoga with us on the go.
“Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile, dwelling in the present moment, I know it is a wonderful moment.” –Thich Nhat Hahn
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