Monday, February 1, 2010

Tuning In with Yoga

Every week, I teach a corporate power yoga class at Coca-Cola. This class is in an open studio with bright lights and lots of noises from the walking track above to the racket ball court next door. Now, I know that there are lots of distractions that make it challenging to tune in to practice, but I also see the lesson in it. Seriously, that's life! There are always distractions and noises that will give many people the opportunity to not tune in, but you have to choose whether you will or will not allow this to happen.

After class, one of the yoga students came up to me and stated, "My yoga Nazi teacher would never teach a class here because it is too loud and too bright." Now, I really did get stuck on the fact that she would put yoga and Nazi together in a sentence, but without judgement I simply replied, "Life is not going to stop for anyone. You have to learn to tune in to your body and your breath regardless of any and all life's distractions." For example, I had to learn how to practice yoga with children swinging off my legs and sliding down my back. My choice was to continue my practice even with two small active children who were home until they started school. So instead of letting years go by without yoga, I incorporated it into my day whenever I could. Sometimes it would work at nap time or before they woke in the morning, but many times it did not.

According to Yoga Journal's "Count on Yoga" article peace of mind is yet another benefit of yoga practice. Yoga quells the fluctuations of the mind, according to Patanjali's Yoga Sutra. In other words, it slows down the mental loops of frustrations, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress. And since stress is implicated in so many health problems--from migraines and insomnia to MS, eczema, high blood pressure, lupus, and heart attacks--if you learn to quiet the mind, you'll be likely to live longer and healthier.

Truthfully many people can tune in a dimly lit room with soft music and yet many people can not. Even in my classes where I have temperature control, lighting control and wonderful yoga conditions, I still see people struggle to find their inner peace. I think the one challenge that plagues us all is to find piece of mind no matter what level of noise and distraction life brings. However, I know that continued yoga practice makes all the difference in the volume of that noise.

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