It's a Wednesday afternoon and I'm already late to our weekly yoga class. Much like other people, I have tried to fit too many things into a short amount of time. After hosting a staff breakfast at my house I had decided to schedule a pest control appointment during a 10 minute window, I only sort of had, before I needed to head to yoga. You can imagine my added stress and frustration when the employee arrived late to my house. I hustled him as quickly as I could and rushed over to participate in yoga. We provide this class for our employees every Wednesday as an opportunity for them to engage in their own practice of health and wellness and bring that back into the field. After struggling to find where I needed to be, I wandered into class late and was warmly welcomed by our Health and Wellness Coordinator, Elise Mitchell, who has a phenomenal ability to incorporate inconveniences and distractions into her yoga and mindfulness classes.
Viewing entries tagged with 'yoga'
I am often asked about how one can get adolescent boys to buy into yoga. Good question. First, regardless if it’s yoga or if it’s adolescent boys specifically, the answer is the same: Meet them where they are.
Dwelling at the base of a slope in a high desert meadow, 6 adolescent boys and I circled up. It was the golden sunlight hour of another pristine sunset in the wilderness. I looked around the circle at the faces of the young adolescent boys who sat around me. The blinding, golden light beaming from their silhouettes was beautiful. One of those moments in the wilderness when you see something so incredible, and the only way to store it in memory is to behold its beauty in the live feed of the savory present moment. No phones or cameras to take pictures of everything; just one another and the experiences we share together.
I am breathing in, I am breathing out.
There exists a perpetual tug-o-war amongst our clients’ perceptions of The Oasis. There are those who love the extra creature comforts like hot showers, less hiking, time to practice yoga or cooking. Contrarily, there are those who detest “sitting around” and would much prefer doing over being any day. Even staff, especially during the first few months of operating the Oasis, asked why we’ve created it and is it necessary.
“How could a handstand invite so much emotional upheaval?” I thought as I came down softly, with the help of my instructor, resting and sobbing in Child’s Pose. I was back in another yoga teacher training after breaking my neck only 9 months earlier. I had done so much work healing the body and mind after my near-fatal car accident. My upper body was stronger than it was before the accident. I had gone to a therapist to deal with some of the fear and anxiety I felt from the experience. Had even undergone Rapid Eye Therapy to help “unlock” more subconscious levels of the trauma. But here, in a moment of turning my body upside down which I had done hundreds of times in my life, I was pouring tears like a geyser erupting from somewhere unspeakably deep within me. And my teacher was amazing. He was gentle, present, compassionate. I rested and spoke little the remainder of the day while still being with my peers of the teacher training.
Pranayama is the Yogic art of breathing. Prana = vital energy, ayama = extension. The practice of pranayama helps bring awareness to the breath bringing the mind to the present moment. The exercise of refining the inhale and exhale can have an extraordinary effect on mood, promoting relaxation, focus, clarity. In the Yogic tradition, the breath is often referred to as a communication with the soul or the vehicle of the soul. Developing a greater understanding and awareness of our breath helps develop a greater awareness of the soul as well. Through the years I’ve been teaching Yoga, the most surprising thing I’ve learned is how profoundly the breath can relieve stress and anxiety with just the simplest practices. Here is one pranayama technique we practiced this week at the Oasis. Try it for yourself!
The yoga mat teaches you something about yourself every time you get on it. We can use these lessons toward any personal journey we undertake. In the case of addiction and recovery, the mat is an excellent place to challenge the addict brain. It reveals our knee-jerk reactions to discomfort and our over-indulgent behaviors toward pleasure. Like a mirror, the mat shows us our strengths and weaknesses not just in our physicality but also in our character. The lesson does not stop with a casual glance at our short-comings. Oh no! At this point, we have only taken out our notebooks and pencils.
If the word mantra draws up an image of bald Hare Krishna chanting men in orange robes asking for money in airports… you’re not alone. That said, we’ve come a long way, baby!