It’s 10 a.m., you are sitting at your desk, and already you are feeling tired or stressed. What can you do? Yoga can help.
In the West we tend to think of Yoga as the “asanas” or “postures” you see in gyms. But Yoga is so much more. The word “Yoga” means “union” – bringing together or aligning the mind, body, and spirit. It also is the means to which we bring such harmony. It is a spiritual path, a way of being and living in this life and this moment so as to clear obstacles that keep us from living from a place of our True Nature (or Self). Yoga teaches us to “go within” instead of looking outside of us for happiness and well-being.
Here are five Yogic practices that you can bring into your everyday life:
- Set an intention. Before you begin your day, set an intention. Ask yourself, “How do I want to live today?” Then see yourself going through the day embodying your intention. As you go through your day, your intention can be a touchstone. It can be a gentle reminder when you are starting to “go off course” and help you to act, love, and think more aligned with how you want to live.
- Take a breathing break. Your breath is your constant companion in life. It is the best indicator of how you are doing and it can be the greatest ally in times of stress. In any moment, you can take a breathing break and shift your mood and energy level. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and relax the muscles in your body. Bring your awareness to your breath. Feel yourself breathing in and out for a few breaths. Even just a 30 second breathing break of gently placing your awareness on your breath, you begin to relax, think more clearly, and recharge.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is bringing gentle, aware presence of what you are doing in this moment. Any time during the day, pause and ask yourself, “Where’s my attention?” Is it scattered thinking about all the things you have to accomplish today, worried about the future, or stuck in the past? You can pause and direct your attention to this present moment – the sounds you hear, the feeling of breathing in and out, what you smell, what you taste, and what you see. Notice how bringing mindful attention to this present moment revitalizes you.
- Practice compassion. When we are stressed, we tend to be pretty harsh with ourselves and others. Practice giving yourself a dose of self-compassion. You might say or do something kind to yourself, something that nourishes you – like slowing down, going for a walk, or talking gently to the critic within you. You’ll notice that as you are kind to yourself, you extend this kindness to others.
- Begin again. In any moment when we react in ways we don’t want to, we can begin again. Each new moment offers us an opportunity to make a new choice – one that is aligned with our intention for how we want live. When you wake up and realize you’ve “messed up,” pause for a moment, put your hand on your heart, and take a few breaths. Say to yourself, “Forgiven.” And begin again.
These practices can shift how you experience this moment and how you live your life. Of course there is much more to Yoga and we can take these and other practices to a deep level. But starting here, we begin to wake up to who we really are, clearing away what is not important or essential, allowing us to live from our True Nature.
Next Wednesday, September 11, 2013, we will begin our annual Mind-Body Connections series. I’ll be teaching Yoga at Your Desk, where we’ll bring together yoga movement and these practices. Please join us. CLICK HERE to register.
This article was written by Lisa A. McCrohan, MA, LICSW, RYT and Wellness Workshop Facilitator.