Yoga Lady


From Up Dog to Down Dog: Making the Most of a Yoga Class

One definition of ‘yoga’ is ‘to tie the strands of the mind together’:
While ‘coming together’ gives us a physical interpretation of the word yoga, an example of tying the strands of the mind together is the directing of our thoughts toward the yoga session before we take on an actual practice. Once those mental strands come together to form an intention, we are ready to begin the physical work.

The minute you unroll your mat, unravel your destructive thoughts. Bring only positive energy to your practice, for your own sake and for that of those around you. Practice with a loving aura, and allow your inner experience to be a shield to the stresses of the outside world. Besides, karma is real, in the Sanskrit and conventional interpretations of the term. Positive energy feeds more positive energy, just as negativity feeds more negativity.

A great way to link your body to your mind is through the breath, and the two points I will focus on are timing and physical quality. The general rule is that inhalations lead expansions, and exhalations lead contractions. From urdhva mukha svanasana to adho mukha svanasana (i.e. upward to downward facing dog), for example, one would inhale into the backbend and exhale into the settling pose. In addition, ujjayi breathing is highly recommended. In this form of breathwork, the back of the throat is gently engaged and the air makes a hissing sound as it travels both directions through this passage. It flows in through the nose, through the lower, upper, inner and outer lungs using the assistance of the diaphragm, then out through the nose. More advanced practitioners may consider retaining the air after each inhalation and exhalation. When performed in combination, strengthening these two aspects of your breath can have a very significant impact on your experience of the session.

Practice patience.
Whether in a mixed class or by yourself, learn to respect your capabilities. Yoga is not a performance, so avoid the temptation to push your body beyond its limitations. Your safety is of utmost importance, as is quality. Be mindful of your body’s learning process, as it benefits more from working through more challenging poses or transitions than from rushing into more advanced looking asanas.

Always, always, always practice savasana. Even if the teacher runs late and you have a prior commitment, never edit out this final resting pose – and if time is an issue, either work on planning your day more appropriately or simply take an early savasana. The reason this pose is so essential is because it is the aim of the entire practice and the pose in which your body absorbs the benefits of the session. The point of practicing the asanas is to get to a state in which the body is filled with prana, or ‘that energy which is infinitely everywhere,’ so that the mind may free itself into a meditative state, the physical demands having been fulfilled.

Take it off the mat.
I was once told that people who sink too easily into poses are generally more strong-willed or stubborn in personality, while those who have a hard time relaxing into poses are typically more mutable, with a difficult relationship with commitment. Regardless of whether or not this is applicable to everyone, there is no denying that practices reveal much about personalities and that lessons learned on and off the mat can translate into its parallel. If you found yourself lost in thought the whole session, learn from those experiences and ask yourself if those don’t reflect something about the way you move through life. You never know what you may learn about yourself.

Do it regularly.
Practicing yoga in any amount may provide benefit, but the more often you do so, the more benefit you have potential to receive. Never let one bad practice discourage future ones, and know that stepping on the mat and into your senses is always a step forward to a healthier, more positive lifestyle.

Change and adjustment


Real peace comes from the inside


Real peace comes from the inside, and is not dependent on outside conditions. Inner peace is a state, in which the mind becomes calm and tranquil, and thoughts are controlled and disciplined.

Ordinarily, the mind is in a state of incessant thinking. Thoughts come and go every hour of the day. Many of these thoughts concern unimportant matters or are negative thoughts, worries and fears. The mind keeps asking questions, comparing, analyzing, commenting on everything, chattering and not allowing any moment of rest. This state of affairs is one of the reasons for the craving for inner peace. Yet, though there is longing for peace of mind, most people continue letting restless thoughts and worries to fill their minds, thus keeping inner peace away.

Real peace comes from the inside, from the spirit. Only when your mind becomes tranquil you can enjoy inner peace. Only when you make peace inside, within yourself, does real peace come into being in your outside world.

Most people let thoughts connected with worries, fears, anger or unhappiness occupy their mind most of the time. They keep engaging their mind with inner conversation about negative situations and actions. This inner conversation eventually affects the subconscious mind, making it accept and take seriously the thoughts and ideas expressed in those inner conversations. It is of vital importance to be careful of what goes into the subconscious mind. Words and thoughts that are repeated often get stronger by the repetitions, sink into the subconscious mind and affect the behavior, actions and reactions of the person involved.

If the inner world is in peace, then the outer circumstances begin to reflect this inner peace. Outer peace always follows inner peace. A peaceful mind broadcasts peace and affects the surrounding environment. Anyone who comes in contact with a peaceful person, senses this peace, and unconsciously responds and behaves accordingly.

What happens if you talk calmly with someone who is angry, and who is talking in a loud voice? Sooner or later he/she will lower his/her voice. (THOUGH I MYSELF HAVE TO GET THE HANG OF THIS!!) I HAVE OFTEN REACTED VIOLENTLY OR AGGRESSIVELY TO HOSTILE PEOPLE AND REPENTED DEEPLY LATER. What happens if you keep calm and tranquil in situations that make other people nervous or restless? They calm down a bit too, subconsciously imitating your peacefulness. These are just a few examples of the effect of inner peace on the outside world. You can find many more such examples.

You can attain inner peace through concentration, meditation, yoga and some other techniques. The keys to inner peace are the ability to calm down the mind, reduce its restlessness, and to free it from the compulsion of constant and restless thinking and worrying. If you work on your mind and emotions you can achieve inner peace, and consequently enjoy outer peace. It does not matter what are your outer conditions and what is the state of affairs around you. If you work toward inner peace, your life and circumstances will change to reflect your inner peace.

Past is Past


There’s no reset button for life. No matter how long you hold a grudge, regardless of how intricate and involved your plans for revenge are, you can never eliminate a past injury. Spend the rest of your life beating yourself up over a wrong choice you made or how you hurt a loved one, yet the error will never be changed and the hurt will never be undone. And the longer you look backward, the fewer gray areas you’ll see. Dwell on the past and events lose their reality and instead become extremes, either wonderful or terrible.

Understanding how destructive hindsight can be is helpful in leading a full life. But what’s essential is realizing how empowering it can be to let the past go. Realizing the past is past, forgiving and apologizing, opens you to a wider, more joyous and fulfilling life. Forgiving the failings of others and accepting your own mistakes generates the kind of happiness and satisfaction of which most of us dream.

Someone else does something, or fails to do something, and as a result, we either experience pain or are harmed in some way. We’re angry about what happened in the past, and no matter how much time passes, we lock that anger in place.

There are also times when, rather than being angry at someone else, we feel regret over our own past action or inaction. Admittedly, this kind of self-centered regret is rarer than outwardly directed anger. But when we do feel it, regret is even more harmful than anger. Let’s face it, it’s worse to beat yourself up than to be beaten up by someone else. You know your weak spots better than anyone, so when you take a swing at yourself, it’s definitely going to do some damage. Like anger, regret can stem from incidents in your personal, financial, or work life.

Rejecting Victimhood
When you dwell on past injuries, you perpetuate your pain. Keep living in the past and you don’t allow a scab to develop and the wound to heal. Instead, you review the incident, over and over, and experience the pain, embarrassment, or guilt, over and over. Living in the past locks you into a psychological prison of victimhood.

Stop living in the past and you’ll reject the image of yourself as a victim and embrace the image of yourself as an empowered individual. It’s another of those spiritual ironies: once you stop trying to control your past and just let it go, you’ll find the past no longer has control over you.

Forgive, Don’t Forget
To transform your past from a burden to a resource, you need to forgive those who have wronged you, yourself included. A court can’t hold your past against you, and neither should you. You can’t change what happened before. Forgiving the spouse who cheated on you doesn’t mean what he or she did was right or that you condone the behavior. All it means is that you don’t want to hold on to the anger. Forgiving yourself for the harms you have done unto others is similar to accepting your faults and letting them go. For example: If your alcoholism has caused damage to all the close ones around you have to let it go as a passing phase of your life and forgive yourself.

I truly believe that, in general, people do the best they can. Sure, people may have let you down in the past, and others will probably let you down again in the future. But that’s because they’re human. You may not really know the full story behind their actions. The classmate who was cruel to you in high school may have been going home each day to abusive parents. That’s not an excuse or a rationalization, it’s just a fact. It doesn’t make what they did acceptable, it just means there are things we don’t know or understand and perhaps never will. I think it’s best to realize there’s a limit to our understanding and to forgive.

Make no mistake, there’s a huge difference between forgiving and forgetting. To forgive doesn’t mean to wipe the slate clean. It doesn’t mean pretending the transgression never took place or forgoing any lessons the past might offer. Forgiving means accepting that we are all flawed creatures, that no human being is perfect, and that we all make mistakes. It’s an act of acceptance, not of the other party’s bad behavior, but of their humanity. It’s a sign of wisdom.

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