At the start of the New Year, I resolved to practicing daily yoga and meditation. I’ve been doing yoga off and on for about four years. But if you’re off for two months and then on for three, and then off for another two, it is impossible to attain any of the life-changing benefits yoga offers. This past year I was disciplined enough to not go months without doing yoga and I have seen amazing results, but this year I will be better.
The first thing yoga taught me was to breathe. You may be thinking “who the heck needs to be taught how to breathe?” I know. I know. Breathing is the first thing we do when we enter this world. We take a breath via a cry, or a scream. What’s so hard about doing something every living being must do to survive? Well, everything and I was doing it wrong.
Through yoga I learned Ujjayi Pranayama. Ujjayi breathing is a technique of the breath which can be referred to as “the ocean breath.” Pranayama is a Sanskrit word that means “extension of the breath.” Prana means “life force” and Ayama means “to draw out.” Ujjayi Pranayama is usually associated with asana practice, the practice of sitting down (or any posture that helps with flexibility). Sitting still while restoring one’s mind is one of the tremendous benefits of yoga. Being able to stretch and attain certain positions brings peace to both body and mind.
But starting yoga is hard, especially if you aren’t flexible. I wasn’t flexible at all when I first stepped onto my mat. I couldn’t touch my toes without bending my knees, but every day I practiced, I got closer and the breath is what kept me from giving up. On the mat I learned to breathe through uncomfortable positions – not scattered breath – but long, deep breathing. A yogi or yogini takes what he or she learns on the mat into their daily life. I carried this technique with me throughout my day by not holding my breath in stressful situations. Breathing keeps the mind calm.
I touch my toes comfortably now and all forward bends (sitting and standing) are my favorite asanas. We hold past relationships in our hips so forward bends are a great way to release negative energies lingering from former lovers. The pose I once loathed has become an integral part of my practice. Such is the way with yoga? (Maybe one day I’ll be able to say that about the head stand, which I refuse to even attempt.)
After consistent practice, a yogi/yogini discovers what kind of diet works better with his/her practice. I have switched to a vegetarian diet because I have found it it works really well with the asanas. A vegetarian diet doesn’t interfere with all the bending and twisting positions in my practice. I feel this way of eating enhances my ability to perform each asana and because there’s a lot of self-reflection in yoga/mediation, it is beneficial to adhere to a compassionate diet.
A few days ago, I committed to doing two daily twenty-minute meditations for forty days as a way to clear my mind and begin a positive habit that I hope transforms into a life-long practice because meditation reminds me to live in the moment. I can’t change the past nor can I predict the future, but I can appreciate the now. My favorite mantra that I use in my mediation is “In this moment, all is well.”
In meditation I listen and am mindful. I’m not perfect in carrying this into my daily life, but I work at it.
“Listen more, talk less.” – Buddha.
Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net
Credit to Wikepedia for the exact definitions I used.
6 thoughts on “Yoga and Life”
Inspiring blog! I, too, chose yoga and meditation as my new year daily habits. I have yet to put together a 7 day stretch so coming across your blog is inspiring me to commit and see it through. Thank you!
That’s so great that you’re reaching out to yoga and meditation as a daily practice. You will benefit for sure. It makes me feel so good that my blog inspires you to want to keep up with your practice. I really hope you do – for you. 🙂 P.S Hope the writing is going well.
Laughter is a great breathing exercise. It opens the lungs and ventilates the spirit. They even have a yoga called laughter yoga, look it up on google and see if some of the videos don’t make you crack a smile. Surround yourself with people, adorable furry friends and loved ones who make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad and focus solely on the good. ‘Cuz, life is to short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. ♡
Thank you for reading my blog, Vicky. And I’ve heard about laughter yoga. A man, I believe called the “Laughing Yogi,” was a guest on a yoga show I watch, and he demonstrated this practice. It was very uplifting. Thank you for the suggestion, and for taking time to read and leave a comment. 🙂
Thanks for responding to my comment Alicia, you’re really sweet. 😉 Some of your posts here on your blog are pretty funny and have made me smile and laugh. So, thank you for that. I can see why they say ‘laughter is the best medicine’.
Thank you, Vicky. If you make time to leave a comment, then I certainly make time to respond to you. It’s my pleasure! I’m so glad my blogs have made you laugh. We need laughter. I need to Blog more, so please check back here soon. Thanks!