I’ve had a lot of students come and go in the six years that I have been teaching a daily Mysore program. This can be for a variety of reasons: schedules change, people have babies, jobs relocate. But the truth is, a lot of people never really stick to the practice, or the practice doesn’t stick to them. What I have noticed over the years is that those who make practice a habit are the ones who practice for the long haul.
Our habits shape us and they play a central role in any successful long-term discipline. Once practice is a habit, it is no longer something that we have to think about. You wake up, you brush your teeth, you practice yoga. Boom—it’s done.
But getting to the point where practice is a habit is difficult. We’ve all felt it—showing up is the hardest part. Our minds play tricks on us. They have all sorts of sneaky reasons to try to prevent us from practicing, because the mind knows that with practice, its thought patterns...
Ever consider using visualization in your practice?
Visualization, or mental imagery, has long been used by top athletes as part of training. I figured if Michael Phelps uses visualization, then I probably should too.
Studies show that mental imagery can help both mentally and physically. I tend to use it primarily with really difficult poses. Here are my tips for your visualizing yourself in an asana.
Retreat. Unplug. Step out of the busyness.
Its hard to remember now what life was like before my iPhone. I don’t know when my free spirit became dictated by connection, but it happened.
Constantly being an arms distance from my phone not only means that I am always connected, it means that I am always working since most of what I do somehow relates back to teaching. It gives me the sense that I am being pulled in different directions, that I always have more to do or something better to do than be where I actually am.
My phone triggers me. I’m constantly getting messages, emails and texts from people who want something from me. I seem to never be getting messages from the people I want to hear from and I look anxiously at my phone to see if I somehow missed a text. I check my social media stats and compare posts. When that thing is within arms reach I can’t get any peace.
My meditation teacher, John Churchill, says peripheral vision is physically becoming more...
Fall brings to us a season of transition as we prepare for the colder months. Any time we are in transition is a good opportunity to stay grounded and balanced. Keep reading for my tips to make the most of your fall practice.
Slow down your yoga practice. Make sure that your yoga practice is nourishing instead of depleting. You want to reduce stress and boost immunity. Slowing down asana practice gives you a chance to focus on details that can easily be overlooked when your energy is frenetic. The seasonal transition of fall is an awesome opportunity to be more introspective and reflective. Be more deliberate with your practice – and notice the opportunities that arise when you do so. I suggest using this time of transition to go deeper inside. You can do this by saving time for seated meditation or enjoying a longer savasana.
Fall is a great time of year to let go. In autumn, we watch the leaves change color and begin to fall. So follow nature’s lead....
Several students have recently pointed out to me that waking up in the morning is easy if they can get to bed on time – it’s going to sleep at night that is the hard part.
I can’t argue with that.
Most of you are very aware of the benefits of getting enough rest at night, and the benefits of deep sleep. You’ve also probably heard of the benefits of synchronizing the day/night or light/dark rhythms called the circadian rhythm.
But do you know why going to bed early is beneficial to the body? My friend Annette, an Ayurvedic health coach, explains that the dominant energy between 10pm – 2am is reigned by the subtle energy of Pitta. Before 10pm is the slow, heavy, replenishing energy of Kapha. When you fall asleep before 10pm, you get replenished and nourished. The energy at this time of night is more sluggish, so you may find it easier to fall asleep. When you tune into the Kapha time of day, you’ll notice that your sleep is sweeter, deeper, and...
The two hours I spend on my yoga mat every day have taught me more about myself than most of my other lessons and experiences combined. I regularly run head first into my limits. The practice is actually set up that way – you don’t get to stop until you can’t do a posture – until, in a sense anyhow, you fail. And in a Mysore room, that means “failing” in front of others. While I know there are many advantages to practicing in a group, it also means that nothing happens behind closed doors. It’s all right there.
The practice of yoga fosters connection. It leads us to connect with the community and with the teacher. The connections that we build with our co-practitioners in a Mysore room or consistent practice setting lead us to trust our community and feel safe and supported. The trust that we build in our relationships with our teachers and even with fellow students makes vulnerability truly possible. And, of course, the ultimate...
I love summer. It’s my favorite time of the year. I love the long days, the warm nights, and the unstructured time of it all.
All this said, summer can be a tough time to maintain a yoga practice. Between heat, humidity, travel, more outdoor activities than usual, happy hours and barbecues its easy to get distracted and not want to practice, or to feel less than optimal while practicing. Oh, and did I mention it smells particularly stinky?
Here are my tips of the trade to prepare for and recover from those steamy practices when your mat feels like a slip-n-slide.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – it’s hard to replenish the amount of fluids we lose during a sweaty practice. Sweating is our bodies way of regulating our body temperature. The nervous system works to stimulate our glands to release sweat. When we sweat we release more than just fluids – our bodies lose electrolytes like chloride, potassium, and sodium. To better replenish yourself after practice try...
“In the Beginner’s Mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.”
With each week, month, year of practice I find it more difficult to remember what it felt like to be a beginner. I try to remember those first months of practice. Back to when my body was full of new sensations and my mind was so focused on what I was trying to do that I couldn’t possibly be anywhere else except for in that moment. I didn’t worry about alignment or wardrobe malfunctions, if I smelled or how the pose three poses from now is going to go because I didn’t know what was coming next and I was too uncomfortable to care.
New students in my Mysore room are the best reminder for me of what it was like to be new to this practice. The students usually seem a little confused, because they don’t know how to do a sun salutation or what is coming next. They look around the room with curiosity and wonder because it is all brand new. They may be...