Posts In: yoga

Breath awareness is one of my favorite de-stressing tools. Three cool things about breath.

  1. Ever present. It’s true that if you stop breathing all your stress will go away. But as long as you’re still breathing, you’ll have this tool at the ready to help you de-stress.
  2. Free. No cost to install or maintain this tool.
  3. Reminds you that you’re connected to something larger. You can’t breathe in isolation. With every breath you’re recycling breath that’s been breathed by your loved ones, your irritating neighbor, a petunia, your dog, Buddha… No such thing as a virgin breath.

By altering your breath you can feel more relaxed, more energized, more confident, more present, more intuitive… But before you start changing your breath, get acquainted first.

I’ve included a 4-minute breath meditation.

It’s something you can listen to often. What did you learn from your breath?

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At the beginning of a yoga class I ask students if there’s anything they want to focus on—a pose, a part of their body, an emotion…

I had a student; I’ll call her Beth, who always asked for corpse pose. And she wanted to do it for the entire class. Yoga’s corpse pose or savasana is the final resting pose at the end of class.

Beth not only joked about wanting to spend the entire class in this pose, she also requested milk and cookies as it reminded her of nap time at pre-school.

Why Beth was right

Our western culture values action over rest. And subscribing to that philosophy contributes to your stress, tight muscles, sleepless nights, upset stomach…. Corpse pose offers you a great place to practice non-doing, to experience deep rest.

Even though the pose reminded Beth of a nap, your goal is to stay awake and be aware. The resting of corpse pose offers profound effects. You can enhance the effects by

  • Making sure you’re not going to be cold.
  • Using an eye bag to block out light.
  • Finding a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • If you have a time restriction, then set a quiet alarm. I like the cricket sound on my phone.
  • Practice regularly.

How to Be a Good Corpse

To practice corpse pose, come on to your back. Your legs are about hip distance apart. Place your arms by your sides, palms face up. If your low back is uncomfortable with your legs extended, then place your feet on the floor, a little further than hips distance apart, and lean your knees on each other.

Once you’re in the pose draw your focus to your breath. Continue to watch your breath until you’re ready to come out of the pose. Then roll on to one side. Stay there for a few breaths. Let the relaxation of the pose come with you as you transition back to a seated position.

Great for long workdays, travel, any time when your stress level is too high. Use it for recovery. Use it for prevention. Give it a try and then share your experience. What did you notice?

 

I’ve got the perfect remedy for you if any of the following sound familiar.

  • You’re sensitive. Sensitive to sounds, scents, people’s energy…
  • You’ve got a lot on your plate. Deadlines, new projects, the world’s longest “to do list.”
  • Something’s thrown you off balance. A conflict that leaves you in tears, a realization that you missed a deadline, or bad news.
  • You’re craving rest and renewal. Now. Pronto. This instant please.
  • You want to dig a hole and crawl in.

Child’s Pose to the Rescue

With child’s pose you instantly cut off stimulation. No props needed. It soothes your nervous system. Your mind will relax.

On a physical level child’s pose will passively open your hips and back. If you’re the kind of person who defaults to action, passive poses like child can be a great practice. With the pose you get to practice a way to “let the pose do you” instead of you doing the pose. It gifts you with a way to allow something to happen as opposed to muscling it into place.

If your knees, back, or hips won’t let you come into the full pose watch the video for some gentle variations.

How did this pose work for you?

 

 

Dan started by inviting me to teach yoga at his studio. The first time he asked me my answer was an easy “no. “ But a year later he asked again.

I’d been practicing yoga very irregularly since the late 70’s.  But it was 1993. For a couple of years I’d been attending yoga class two to three times a week and had a regular home practice. Plus I‘d started working in my massage business full time. The timing was perfect for me to start teaching.

Step one…

I said “yes.” Then time passed. One day Dan asked how “we” were going to get me to teach. My response? “I don’t know how to do headstands.” His response? “Don’t teach headstands.”

Little chunks

The next week during a class I was attending he asked if I could move my mat to the front of the class. That way he could adjust students as I demonstrated the poses.

At first I was aware of being in front of the class, but then I focused on the yoga and it was okay. Then he asked if I could teach the beginning of a class the following week. I’d been offering guided mediations for years in other settings so that was easy.

The next week he had me teach the end of a class. Then when I’d taught the middle of a class on week three he announced that I had now taught a full class so was ready to sub for him. My thought was “What just happened?”

I went on to complete both yoga teacher and yoga therapy trainings, but Dan’s trick got me started.

What stops you?

Since then I’ve let fear or limiting beliefs stop me in other ways. “I don’t know enough, the timings not right, someone else is already doing this work, blah, blah, blah… “ At those times I’ve found Dan’s trick a handy part of my toolkit.

I wonder if you ever let yourself get stuck by outdated ideas about who you are? Or how about beliefs about “competition?” Or feelings of not knowing or being enough? Or other beliefs about lack and limitations?

I wonder if Dan’s trick might work for you? Can you trick yourself into action by taking on one very, very small piece of what scares you? Whether you’re starting a brand new business or working on a project within your business you probably have experienced getting stuck. Give this trick a try and join the conversation here.

 

 

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