Every morning I begin my commute with a passage from the book “A Year of Living Your Yoga” by Judith Lasater (I love this book so much that it is my second year reading it🤭). For each day there is a inspirational saying or passage for your day that is related to yoga.
One of the passages for this week was “the breathe is the gateway to consciousness”. This reminded me of an experience I had with a patient this past week. I have been treating a patient with relaxation therapy. This has consisted of progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, breathing techniques, mindfulness and the body scan technique. After our first session, she said “it finally feels like all this is real and actually happening”. To give you a background on this patient- she is a dancer who just recently has experienced a stroke. She is now unable to feel the right side of her body, unable to walk independently and has lost a lot of strength in her hands to the point where she is unable to write. All of these are extremely drastic changes in ones life and I can completely understand how it has been such a shock for her and has not felt like reality.
Once she took a step back and focused on the present moment by using her breath, she was able to gain insight and feel as if this was all reality. In her situation, as well as any situation in life, I have realized the importance of using the breath to assist us. Our breath is always available to us, we just don’t always intend to place our focus on it.
Today or any day when you feel like your thoughts are scattered or your feeling the need to control… take a deep breath in and then elongate your exhale as the breath of letting go. Repeat this 3 to 5 times.
This will help you to release the stale, negative energy you may be holding in so you can make space for new, fresh, and positive energy to come into your body.
The passage below is from the book “Come on, Inner Peace” by Sachin Garg. This book was given to me by a man who was working in a little store located in the markets of Jew Town in Kerala, India. I am grateful that I was given this book because it opened my eyes to a heart warming story filled with various strong messages about inner peace. I loved this passage from the book and so I figured that I would share it!
From the chapter “The wind beneath my wings” on pg. 226-
“We are nothing but the mistakes we make. And everybody makes mistakes. That’s what makes us human. It’s important to forgive yourself for those mistakes and accept yourself with them instead of ruing yourself over it forever. We have a tendency to relapse into the mistakes we’ve once made, because we feel we have been there once, we could do it again. But that is where your inner strength, friends, family, passions, books, and love will play a role. Distract yourself to positivity and let life surprise you with its rewards.”
Some days I practice yoga whenever I get home from work as a way to create head space and increase easement after a long day. Last night after work I was feeling quite exhausted but I decided that yoga is never a bad idea so I did a quick relaxing flow. I allowed my body to take me through a restorative flow that included a forward fold, pigeon, and then a couple stretches on my mat. While I was in my forward fold and pigeon pose, I realize that I completely allowed myself to let go. I gave up all resistance, allowing myself to gradually sink into the pose a little more with each breath. This does not always happen in these poses so effortlessly but last night it felt like such a relief.
I realize that we are always going to have that tension or uncomfortable feeling in the back of our hamstrings or in the side of our hips when we practice these poses, although if we allow ourselves to notice that the tension is going to be there, give in to the tension, and find a way to find comfort in the pose, we are allowing our suffering to get out. As you practice these poses, it is important to cultivate a non-judging mind while you do them. This can relate to uncomfortable feelings in our lives that may arise and may always be there in certain circumstances, but we can approach these feelings or situations the same way as our pigeon pose or our forward fold. It is so common that we feel we need to resist, but today try to breathe into your physically tight sports and into your mental agitation.
Remember that practice allows resistance to surface so it can fly away.
When we realize we have the ability to control our thoughts by selecting which ones we would like to keep and which ones we would like to let go of, we are led to greater peace within ourselves. I used to experience difficulty selecting my thoughts and letting go of the thoughts that were not serving me. This led me to question myself, do I want inner peace for myself or do I want to allow myself to suffer? the answers to these questions were simple.
Once I decided that I wanted to learn how to be able to control my thoughts easier, it has become a daily practice for me for over a year now. I have continued to build my mental strength and awareness through meditation, yoga, and have developed other coping mechanisms for myself. Let me tell you, it is SO worth it.
I will share one of the techniques that I came up with one day to be able to see these thoughts in a more visual way.
Imagine your thoughts as a variety of emails on your computer screen… which emails would you like to archive and which ones would you like to keep there to be able to stay present with you in that moment? which ones are serving you and which ones can you notice than choose to let go of? You are still noticing these emails (thoughts), however, you are just allowing them to not have any effect on your present state by letting go of them.
It can be helpful to come up with a personal technique that works for you. The way I related my thoughts to emails was completely random but it helped me to see things in a way that my mind understood. Maybe there is something more relatable to you that you can come up with. If you are interested in finding more effecting ways to choose your thought patterns, try it out!
I realize it is extremely important to learn and practice flexibility throughout our daily lives. Becoming more flexible throughout my day has been a continuous practice for me for quite sometime now. This can definitely be difficult when you have set expectations and a situation does not go as planned. Although through recent experiences, I am aware that I have begun cultivating flexibility into my life.
The other day after a morning yoga class, I went to change into my scrubs for work and realized that I had brought everything for work except for my pants. Instead of impulsively reacting negatively or becoming anxious over this, I revisited my intention of relaxation and minimizing stress. After doing so, I did not even react, and it was like nothing happened! My attitude or mindset hadn’t changed at all. I picked up my bag and walked back to my apartment to get my pants then took the later train. As I sat down on the train that morning, I became mindful of how flexible I had become in situations that didn’t turn out “perfectly” or exactly “as planned”.
This past Friday I had a similar experience. I showed up at the yoga studio for 6 AM class and the studio was closed. I looked online and saw that that particular class was not being offered that day. From here, my thoughts could have gone one of two ways. I could create negative energy for myself by thinking — “I should’ve checked the schedule”. OR I could take a more positive route and think — “I’ll take an early train and go to yoga after work today”. Mindfully, I chose the second option. I went on with my day as if nothing had happened.
From these experiences, it becomes clear that we always have the choice to create situations as difficult or simple. We have the choice to allow ourselves to be free of suffering or dawn on things in the past that we cannot control. We can also choose to see experiences such as these, as awareness and a greater development of equanimity, patience, and relaxation when things do not go as planned.
When an unexpected change occurs, or you become disappointed; remind yourself that there is always an alternative. In these two situations, for me it was an earlier train or a later yoga class. Staying open minded and flexible is key in cultivating a life filled with joy and relaxation.
I have decided to write on the concept of intention because I have realized that it is exceptionally important in one’s life. For the past year, I have made a point to set intentions for my day, week or month. I enjoy setting intentions during my yoga practice or writing them down on my commute to work. This allows me to start my day with positivity and motivation towards a goal. It is also beneficial to revisit these intentions whenever I feel the need to throughout my day or week. I enjoy writing intentions down so I can stay mindful of them because it is easy to become lazy or busy with other things that you push your intentions to the side.
Along with setting intentions, I have also become mindful of the intentions that we have behind the way that we act, speak or treat others. We may not realize at the time what it is but I believe that there is usually an intention behind everything. It is helpful to become mindful of our intentions and understand why we act or think a certain way. I have recently made a point to check in with my intentions of my actions, what I say and how I act. For instance, when it comes to practicing yoga in the morning, my intention is to start my day off with yoga because I find it therapeutic and joyful. If my intention behind this was because I felt that I “should” practice yoga and if I don’t I am a failure, then I would look at this from a whole new perspective. I realize that it is so important to take the time to check in with our intentions behind our actions to become more mindful of if they are coming from a positive place.
Allow yourself to take the time to set intentions and become mindful of your intentions throughout your day. This may lead you to question yourself but it will help you to develop awareness and lead you towards more positive intentions.
I chose to write this post because sleep used to be quite a stressor in my life. My active mind and endless energy like to keep me going. To be completely healthy, I understand that sleep is essential. Once I became yoga certified, I realized how much the holistic approach benefitted me in various ways with sleep being one of them. I began to gain knowledge and become more familiar with breathing techniques, meditation, therapeutic yoga and aromatherapy. After much practice, I became able to quiet my mind on my own which led me to a more present-centered state. This takes lots of practice and patience but I believe that everyone can achieve it.
If you are anything like me, I have some sleeping tips for you! Firstly, it is extremely effective to buy a diffuser (can be found on amazon for very cheap!) or essential oils (I prefer “DoTerra Oils” but any oils can be found on amazon to!). I prefer to mix my oils by placing lavender,peppermint and bergamot in the diffuser at the same time. These three oils can promote sleep, calming and decrease anxiety. Secondly, the body scan technique has been extremely helpful for me. This allows me to check in with my body. This is a technique that you can learn on your own or there is recording apps you can find on your IPhone or even on YouTube by typing in “body scan relaxation meditation”. Thirdly, practicing gentle yoga before bed helps to set me into a greater state of relaxation and easement so that I am feeling grounded throughout my mind and body.
If you would like anymore tips on relaxation or sleeping techniques, don’t hesitate to email me or direct message me through my Instagram! I believe what works for me, may work for you!