Your Presence is a Present

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu

Staying present can be challenging all the time. Add a global pandemic to the mix, and our minds and thoughts travel everywhere! To stay present, it’s helpful to anchor attention on something where we can keep bringing our focus back when the mind strays. It can be frustrating to experience constant drifting back to the past or into the future, imagining things that will likely never happen. It takes a big toll on the nervous system and thus our overall health and wellness.

Try to use breathing as an anchor (it’s my favorite). And, it’s right under your nose! When the attention begins to wander away, just think “not now” and bring the focus back to the anchor with compassion and not judgement. Perhaps even acknowledge and accept the wandering. With practice this will become more fluid. Remember too, that practice isn’t for perfection. Practice is for navigating in the light, what we may truly need in the dark.

During this season of light and holy days, may your presence be a present!

A Locust a Day…

One of the very best yoga poses to do every day is locust (Salabhasana). In my gentle mat and chair classes, I teach a few variations of it. Here’s why it’s so great:

Locust pose is a back bend and backward bending poses stimulate and tone the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response in the body). It energizes the body and helps to improve focus.

Practicing locust pose involves core strength. As we engage the core muscles, we’re also lengthening and extending the entire spine, thus strengthening the back muscles, particularly the low back. Keep in mind while trying this pose that it’s mostly about the lengthening versus the lifting and keeping the neck long (because every body is different, we’re not going to necessarily look like the picture above).

Some other amazing benefits of this pose are that it opens the chest, which we all often collapse during the day due to our posture and how much time we spend sitting. Depending upon the version of locust (arms behind and parallel to the mat), we’re getting some nice retraction of the scapula — a good movement for the rotator cuff. Locust is great for strengthening the gluteal muscles in the butt that support the back, and it tones the inner thighs, hamstrings, adductors and calf muscles. For these reasons and more, it is often “prescribed” in PT for low back pain and improving posture.

As we move into this asana or posture, we put our body weight and balance into our abdomen (if practicing the mat version) so the internal organs get a massage and we activate our digestive system, getting everything moving along effectively.

Are you ready for a locust a day? It may keep the doctor away.

Embracing Imperfection

We’re all perfectly imperfect. An amazingly worthwhile theme for yesterday’s Gentle Yoga class. As I meditated on the “perfect” delivery of this message, it ended up happening rather organically. I messed up an instruction and there was the perfect segue.

We joyfully celebrated our “flubs” in Yoga teacher training. After all, it is a practice with an enormous amount of material. We taught mini classes to each other, so there were many opportunities to work on delivery. I especially loved when someone said, “May your next breath be your last.” There were so many funny yoga-isms like that. I have a list somewhere!

Imperfections can be a source of joy. Embracing imperfection can be a wonderful learning experience where our truest selves slip into the present moment, shining a light on genuine humaness.

What has imperfection taught you?