Two Yoginis

A journey of yoga, friendship, and transformation


Leave a comment

Let Me Hear Your Body Talk

When spring comes around, we often think about cleansing our bodies and our desks and our closets, but what about our thoughts? What about detoxifying our minds?

20130318-160235.jpg

Spring in the City

This weekend, during teacher training, we talked a lot about how we practice yoga “with the body but for the mind.” By focusing our attention on the meticulous details of each posture, we are able to quiet the mind from its usual chatter. When our minds are busy making sure that each body part is doing what it’s supposed to, we don’t have the bandwidth to consider what we’d like to have for dinner, or who commented on our Facebook status, or how we’re going to get our latest work assignment done. (And, if we’re able to think about these things we’re not practicing yoga.)

Yoga also reminds us that we have a body; that we’re not just a jumble of racing thoughts. When was the last time you mentally scanned each part of your body to see how it felt? When was the last time you consulted your body for an answer to a question or a solution to a challenge (rather than exclusively tuning into the whirring activity of your mind)? When was the last time you put your hands on your heart or your belly and really felt your body inhale and exhale?

Not only do we have a body, but our bodies (if acknowledged and cared for) can become sensitive tuning forks, constantly sending us signals as to what we like and don’t like, what we want and don’t want, and what tastes good, looks good, smells good, and sounds good. Our bodies often know what we want before we do.

When the mind and the body work together as one team, we become unstoppable. It is in this state that we finally figure out what feels good, and stop filling ourselves with junky food, junky experiences, and junky thoughts. It’s when we realize that a cold, or insomnia, or a headache is not merely an acceptable side-effect of modern life; that it’s our body’s sophisticated system delivering a clear signal that something is out of balance. This is when we can start to consciously choose what actually feels good over what we think feels good. And when we feel good, everything around us begins to shift.

This week, let’s practice focusing only on that which makes us feel good. Let’s tune into the messages from our bodies and let our minds take a break from thinking so darn much. In the spirit of spring, let’s allow our bodies (to borrow a phrase from Bryn) to “till the soil” of our minds, thereby allowing fresh ideas to sprout. If you’re in need of a little hand-holding (myself included), nothing could be more perfect than this free 21-Day Meditation Challenge with daily, guided audio sequences narrated by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra (that I’ve been recommending to everyone I know).

Or, you could just watch this Olivia Newton John video:

Happy spring, yogis!


3 Comments

We Are the Common Denominators

Lately, I’ve been contemplating the idea of closure and how to get it (without opening up a whole ‘nother can of worms).

If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already had a life experience, situation, or relationship that did not end neatly tied up in a bow. Let’s be real: “adult” life has the potential to be messy and unpredictable. We don’t always abide by the golden rule, even though we know we should. And by now, we’ve likely experienced both sides of the equation – as either the maker of a mess or as the one who tried (unsuccessfully) to clean it up. When you’re on cleanup duty (I been there, sister), I know it’s easy to get stuck in a victim (why me?) or blame (what an asshole!) mentality.

I believe it was during an episode of Oprah that I first became acquainted with the idea that we are the common denominators of everything that happens in our lives. Thereby, we are complicit (perhaps unconsciously), in allowing negative situations or patterns to manifest. On some level, we have said “yes” to pain or drama or heartache (read: we wanted it). This concept resonated with me, deeply, and I became determined to break my own negative relationship patterns by changing myself. It was also at this time that I found myself returning more and more frequently to the mat.

One of the (many) tools that yoga cultivates is the ability to expand our consciousness by containing the conscious mind to a very limited space (the body). Although it might seem counterintuitive, it is actually this containment that allows us to attain greater focus and awareness of ourselves. Since we are the common denominators in our lives, we must first understand our inner landscape before we can begin to see meaningful changes in our external realities.

20130227-220138.jpg

In our day-to-day lives we are inundated with stimuli; but when we step on to the mat, we are asked to tune all of that out, focusing one hundred percent on our practice or sadhana. By focusing wholeheartedly on the poses, we are able to direct our undivided attention to very specific parts of our bodies. In each pose, we must be consciously aware of the minute details of what every body part is doing, from the ground up. We must make small corrections when our toes are pointing the wrong direction, or our navels aren’t pulled in, or our arms aren’t extending straight up by our ears.

When we step off the mat and back into the world, our expanded consciousness goes with us. Now we are aware of our behavior toward others, what kinds of things we consume, and how we carry ourselves in the world. We can hear the inner dialogue around our decisions. We can no longer claim to be the victim or blame anyone else for our problems, because we are fully conscious of even our questionable choices. We have shined a light on the shadowy parts of ourselves that had previously slinked by unnoticed. If we have an addiction to pain, it’s no longer allowed to hide in the dark spaces of the unconscious.

Luckily, it is when we begin to shine a light on these shadowy places that we are able to transform. It is at this point we start to understand what we are doing to allow negative situations to manifest in our lives, and, thus, begin the process of creating what it is we really want (and stop creating what we don’t want).

Finally, and most importantly, when we recognize that we are just as much the mess-makers as we are the cleaner-uppers, we can forgive ourselves and others for our shared unfinished business. Cause, if you really think about it, most of us are doing the best we can with the tools we have at any given time. The good news is, with better tools (e.g. yoga) we can all get better results.