SalmonBerry

Posts Tagged ‘practice’

Breathe

In Mindfulness, Yoga on December 2, 2014 at 8:09 pm
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Daily practice

If you can breathe, then yoga is for you. Yes, that does mean absolutely everyone.

Avoiding yoga by saying it’s not your thing or you tried it once is like saying that you’ve tried food and it just didn’t work out for you so you’ve decided not to eat.

Yoga is merely connecting to your breath, and, as a result, your body, wholeheartedly. Every single day. Every single vulnerable minute. Every single exposed nanosecond.

In a simple, yet constraining, seated twist or in a challenging, open-hearted backbend. Finding the place in a pose – and in your life – where you can truly breath, with depth and ease, is no mere feat. How you get to that place will be different for everyone. The magic of asanas is that they are designed to take you to this place of connection. To unlock the mystery of what is holding you back. To release the pent up emotions. The ones that are much more subtle then the overt twins of anger and anxiety that can usually be fended off by a good, long run. Emotions like shame, self-doubt, and contempt.

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Beauty in the struggle

No wonder you avoid yoga practice. It can feel super icky.

And it’s not the hurts-so-good burn of lactic acid build-up during a spin class. This is down-and-dirty, how-can-I-ever-look-someone-in-the-eye-again, kind-of hurt. But then you stay with it, you don’t avoid it, you breathe through it, and suddenly you have moved into a different pose/place/time and all is effortless. You feel light and shining and powerful and graceful and humbled and grateful.

Yoga is not balancing on your forearms while touching your toes to the top of your head. Yoga is not sitting in lotus for hours without moving a muscle. Yoga is not folding your sweaty self in half in a heated room. And, yet, if that is the yoga that works for you, then it is. Yoga is about viciously carving out time for yourself to work on the “you” that is outside the physical plane. It is the time you take to connect your body, mind, and spirit. The practice you do in order to sit with your self and your breath in silence without wanting to bolt from the situation. Without wanting your current reality to be different.

Yoga works on you energetically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you don’t buy that, it doesn’t mean that yoga is not for you, it only means you haven’t done enough yoga. You haven’t fully surrendered to the possibilities, to the potentiality, of really practicing yoga. This is a phenomenon that you can feel. It very visibly shows up in your life through the intensely radical as well as the softly subtle changes that occur once you commit to your practice.

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Freedom and peace is revealed

I used to run a lot. I still do. Just not as much. Running felt wonderful and cathartic and afterwards, for awhile, I was at peace. But it was never sustainable. Quite easily I would find myself jolted out of the flow and into reactive mode. Practicing more asanas, more often, allowed me to finally sit in mediation and actually capture that sustainable peace – for, like, days and weeks.

I am moving toward longer stretches of peaceful bliss and I always will be…

Opening to Curiosity

In Yoga on August 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm

0119_130502_SalmonberryMy journey into a daily, at-home, yoga practice has been long and varied with fits and starts and shifting focus. But all of it has been progress and a continual building on itself even if it didn’t appear that way at the time. Maybe to someone other than myself, it looks like a bunch of detours and u-turns but I’m just following the light that bubbles up inside of me when I practice – when I sit in meditation, when I kick up into a handstand, when I surrender to a forward bend.

Sometimes yoga feels like a struggle both physically and emotionally – but within any struggle there comes that moment of light, that burst of relief from the tension, a softening of the pushing and striving.

Practicing yoga makes you curious. You start to tap into and uncover parts of yourself that you didn’t know were there which then stimulates an interest and yearning to keep exploring and finding things outside yourself that encourage these ‘new’ parts of you. Sometimes you uncover light, sometimes you uncover dark. Either way, if you stay open and curious, it will lead you to miraculous places.

0143_130502_SalmonberryYou can start with any of the eight limbs of yoga or you can start with the most obvious, accessible, and least subtle. The asana or posture practice. For many, the physical practice is the beginning of being curious. The poses move your body in ways that are counter to it’s habits and challenge you to hang in there mentally. This physical opening, or energetic release, of the parts of your body – your hips, upper back, hamstrings, shoulders – that are tight or locked down allows something new to rush in.

A curiosity about your mind, a curiosity about your dominant emotions, a curiosity about the effect of food on your body and mood, a curiosity about the inherent beauty of nature, a curiosity about that neighbor whom you never bothered to speak to, a curiosity about your ancestor’s native country.

These peaks of interest – the places where you never realized the light was shining – lead you to take that belly dancing class or stock your pantry with new foods or pick up a different book or talk to a local artist or read old journals or ask your grandmother about her childhood or take that road trip or apply for that job or walk into that meet-up group.

The light will catch your attention anyway it can. Following your curiosity and consistently stimulating your innate knowing through yoga leads to a flowering of the heart and the realization that life can be, and, actually, always is, joyful.

Practical Gratitude

In Mindfulness on July 10, 2013 at 11:26 pm
shrimp n celery
“…to me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle. Every inch of space is a miracle…” -Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman’s Poem of Perfect Miracles appreciates the miracles in everything. The light, the dark, the space can refer to something different to everyone depending on experience, beliefs, and perspective. I’ve come to realize that nature is my muse and the place where I recognize the light, the dark, and the miracles. My early years were very grounded and earthy and rhythmically natural and yet there was the ever present and mystical influence of Native Alaskan culture. Whitman’s work walked the line between humanism and transcendentalism. He was practical and real and embraced all religions equally while not being a believer or follower of a particular one. I have a lot of that in me and I take a lot of pictures of food (where is this going, you ask?).

figs n goat cheeseIf you have a meal with me or follow me on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, you are painfully aware of my constant need to document my plate before consumption. I recently said (to an exasperated dinner companion) that my meal tastes better if I’ve taken a photograph of it first. At the time, I was making a joke but then I started to think about this idea more. And I actually wasn’t kidding. My meal does taste better because I am present with all the flavors and textures AFTER I snap a quick photo of it with my phone.

wine, cabbage, carrotsThe act of stopping to take a picture and capturing the beauty of the food is an act of GRATITUDE. It really just occurred to me today. It’s been my unconscious way of saying Grace before meals. Praying before meals was not a habit I grew up with but I was certainly taught, through example and lifestyle, to be grateful to the earth for the food I was consuming. Respect and appreciation for hunters and fishermen was automatic and celebrated. Native Alaskan culture is deep in respect and gratitude toward the earth and it’s resources. These were my influences during childhood and it shines through much more than I’ve realized. It’s just so beautiful that gratitude can come through no matter the method, strategy, practice, belief system, faith, deity…how do you put practical gratitude into practice on a daily basis?