Why I Practice Yoga
Stepping on my mat is coming home. And as we grow up, the idea and definition of “home” becomes amorphous. It doesn’t have clean edges anymore. Maybe it never did. Is it in San Diego, where I’ve lived for the past decade? Is it where I go for the holidays? Is it wherever my mom is? Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. Life gets topsy turvy sometimes and anxiety :: worry :: doubt :: fear :: loneliness often become my regular, unwanted companions. Sigh. But when I practice yoga asana I feel “home” wherever I may be: an airport waiting area, a beach somewhere, the yoga studio down the street. Lately I’ve been intentionally cultivating that home feeling within myself as I move through the world; making it a goal to find that feeling of wholeness :: safety :: okay-ness.
And each time I get on my mat, I remember: Oh, right, this is what it feels like to be grounded :: to have my feet on the earth :: to be supported :: to take risks and fall :: to try again :: to get back up :: to breath deeply :: to take flight :: to exhibit courage :: to have my own back :: to challenge myself :: to be enough as I am today :: to rest.
Here’s what I’ve found helps me most:
Start with Sun Salutations.
* The moving, repetitive flow of the sun salutations is a mindless meditation that gets me out of my head, into my body, and connected with my breath.
Move with breath:
* As I take deeper breaths my body relaxes, my thoughts quiet, and I find myself more connected with what’s actually happening in the present moment.
* When I get on my mat (or on the grass :: sand :: dirt) out in nature I breathe in fresh air and remember that I’m part of this universe :: earth :: world :: community. (Try it. It’s magical. And maybe you’ll inspire someone else to take a breath :: slow down :: and remember their own wholeness.)
Set an intention:
* Sometimes I dedicate each sun salute to a friend or choose an affirming word for each breath. It helps me feel purposeful :: connected :: home.
by Lena Schmidt