The Practice

What Does Practice Mean to You?

What does “to practice” mean to you? What are you practicing every day, maybe unconsciously? To practice yoga means to practice creating  a time and a space for yourself, to consciously watch yourself breathe, to create space not just in your body but also in your mind. This daily  practice will spill over to your everyday life and soon you’ll be  wondering whom the old you – the one who used to react to the world who used to talk down to yourself and possibly to others was.

Be there for one another, Be present

After practicing yoga, you may find that you take a breath before needing to speak next or you may begin to listen with an open heart before needing to be right. One of the greatest things we can do on this planet is to be there for one another, to be present and caring when someone is in pain without feeling bigger or better than that other person. Being present is hard work that can become easier with practice.

Instant Reactions

When we instantly react to something we don’t like perhaps we may not fully understand what is actually happening. This fear based reaction to the unknown can be reversed when you train yourself to look at your thoughts, and ask yourself, why am I having this reaction?

Be Aware

In yoga, we breathe deeply in connection with our bodies; this awareness to breath creates a closer connection to your inner being, your intuition and heart center. This close connection to the innermost part of you that makes daily decisions deepens your body, mind and soul connection. You many begin to notice how a decision makes you feel physically? Does choosing path A make your heart sing or does it give you a bellyache? If path A makes you squeamish, no matter how flattering it looks, it may not be right for you.

Make it a Way of Life

Yoga is a way of life. The practice is the gateway to freedom in the emotional body. Breath work is the link to inner peace and therefor contentment. The ego will scream at you to judge, to blame, to be right, and the breath will say whatever it is, it’s okay in this moment, we will calmly evaluate the situation together without judgment and will take appropriate actions without trying to inflict pain.

What do you Practice?

My question to you is: what do you practice? If you practice being angry sitting in traffic, you cultivate this anger within you. In doing so you attract more situations like being angry at traffic to yourself. Soon the anger at traffic transmutes to anger at your co-workers, your family, yourself.

 

When you practice breathing and being mindful of your thoughts, the same person in traffic will find opportunity to breathe, to think, the same person will find opportunity and joy in this stillness. This stillness opens up the mind to ideas, opportunities, revelations and insight, whereas the anger stops this incredible wisdom from entering the conscious mind.

 

So the next time that you’re sitting in traffic, or if you’re like me and travel via subway and that subway just stops, take the opportunity to feel your body. Ground your sit bones on whatever surface it is you’re sitting upon, are they even? Watch your breath, are inhales melting into exhales? Is your breathing short or are you able to enjoy long, sinewy breaths, breaths that are elastic like taffy. Is your jaw tight? Can you unclench it? Is your brow relaxed or furled? Soon you’ll forget about the traffic and be ok with whatever the universe is serving you for the moment, because who knows, it could be for your highest good.

Take Control

Once you get good at finding peace in stressful situations, perhaps you’ll want to start a meditation practice because you’ll see how good it feels to slow down and really listen to the beautiful nothingness inside of you. Of course thoughts will come and if will truly be up to you to engage in these thoughts or to let them float on by like clouds. Once sitting with your thoughts and letting them pass, perhaps you’ll begin to experience the flow of energy, or prana the life force inside of you and around you. Just writing about this energy I can begin to feel it- can you?    So what does this have to do with balancing on your head and getting twisted up like a pretzel everything- because life will continue to throw us mean, fast curve balls – much like that yoga pose that seems impossible; the training is to just observe where you are, with your body, with your breath and to not judge your attempts at difficult or even simple asanas- just be okay with the moment –whatever it gives you. 

Practice Daily

The beautiful thing about practicing daily is that you begin to see the effort just melt away, much like practicing mindfulness in sticky situations. Compassion for yourself that soon will spill over to others is key. If stillness and breath are quite doing it (yet) then I also recommend sitting in gratitude. Look around at the traffic, isn’t it amazing that someone invented a machine that can quickly and safely get us to where we want to go? Isn’t it remarkable that we have these bodies that perfectly and effortlessly breath fresh air, and we don’t have to do anything in order to maintain this life force? Isn’t it incredible that this magnificent star overhead radiates it’s incredible light for us to enjoy? 

Gratitude

Gratitude is another gateway to experiencing peace and contentment. We humans need these tools because a lot of our thoughts and impulses are subconscious and reactions from when we were helpless babes. So it’s up to us to practice deprogramming our emphatic nervous system from when we couldn’t fend or speak up for ourselves. These techniques were used for survival at age five, but now let’s let go of the need to be right, to be angry, to be first, and open our hearts to kindness, to breath and to being. I invite you to practice yoga, to practice mindfulness and to watch how your life really can change from the inside out!

About the Author:

Kate Griffler is yoga teacher, dancer, choreographer and producer living in New York City. She has been teaching yoga since 2006 and currently teaches Intermediate Vinyasa, Power Flow, Basics, Gentle Yoga and meditation at Pure Yoga and to her private yoga students. She received her teacher 200 hour teacher training from Jhon Tamayo of Atmananda Yoga. Kate takes a therapeutic, yet fun approach to teaching. She works with everyone from beginners to advanced yogis. Her class focuses on achieving a greater awareness of the body mind connection with attention to alignment, movement stabilization connectivity, breath work and meditation.