This is a big question and every individual will have their own set of unique answers. If you were to ask the same people that question a year or so later their answers may have changed, developed, evolved along with their practice. For example somebody may initially have been drawn to the practice of yoga to help with a stiff back, however as they continued to practice they may find that what initially drew them to yoga (in this case their back, now hopefully supple and strong,) is no longer the prime motivator behind their practice. Along the way they may have enjoyed more freedom in their breath and body, appreciated a quieter mind and taken refuge is a more harmonious way of being in day to day life (one of the many possible outcomes of a yoga practice.) However it is at challenging times, like the ones we find ourselves in during 2020, where the gift of a regular yoga practice can really pay off. We can call upon all our strengths, our sense of calm, our ability to stay present and the numerous other things that yoga teaches us and these things can act like our very own “first aid kit” that helps guide our way and support us through challenging times.
If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed at any time try this very simple breathing practice.( Please firstly note that however that if you have blood pressure issues, heart problems, hernia or are pregnant do not pause/hold your breath.)
- Lie down in relaxation position –Shavasana and if needed, for additional comfort place a flat blanket beneath the head and a rolled blanket beneath the knees. Allow your arms to be a little distance from the side of your body, palms facing up and allow your legs and hips to release as the feet drift out to the side. Close your eyes and connect with your breath.
- Breathe in fully and observe the rise of your belly as you inhale.
- Pause the breath, just temporarily at the top of the in breath and then slowly release the full out breath, completely emptying the lungs and noticing the gentle fall of your belly as you breathe out. Pause momentarily at the end of the out breath.
- Continue to practice in this way, focusing your attention on your breathing and after a minute or 2 you should hopefully be feeling calmer as the stress and tension eases away.
In day to day life, take your yoga practice off your mat. If you feel stressed, stop, take a breath in and then breathe out fully. Avoid multi-tasking, (as this has the tendency to fragment the mind and create unnecessary busyness) instead, focus simply on doing one thing at a time and whatever you are doing give it your full attention (just as you would in a yoga pose) This helps prevent stress, preserves the body’s vital energy and in the long term is more beneficial to the health of your body and mind. So next time you feel stressed, breathe out fully and just focus on the one thing in front of you and give it your full attention.
Kath Turner Yoga June 2020