There is no doubt that yoga has the ability to help you cultivate a kinder more compassionate way of being. The philosophies behind each pose (asana) are deeply rooted in training the mind to create harmony through difficult moments. Attaining contentment and strength in a difficult moment on the mat eventually transpires off the mat.
Learning to find COMFORT in the uncomfortable and helping you to “work out” the inner kinks, developing an inner beauty that never fades; leaves us radiating a beautiful aura or presence despite outward appearance. This is something I like to call the “yoga glow.”
Each pose, each difficult moment, is an opportunity to practice steadiness, mindfulness, and compassion. Adapting these traits are what I find most beautiful and powerful about the human spirit. It is a discipline, a constant awareness and effort, and a choice to not be affected or reactionary in by circumstances. Instead using the tools that yoga gives us, such as breath (prana), focus (drishti), and positive intention (mantras) to find contentment and eventually power during difficult times.
Through regular practice, this becomes a subconscious response to every challenge in your life. Always choosing to look at the beautiful side of things and becoming more beautiful within yourself in the process.
Every pose in yoga has a purpose in affecting your health and state of mind. Everything in yoga matters; every breath and every focus (drishti) is there to help you in some way. Here are some yoga tools you can try the next time an uncomfortable or difficult moment arises on or off the mat.
Breathing properly brings oxygen to every cell in our body and is probably one of the most overlooked health tools there is. Focusing on the breath can lower stress levels and even blood pressure.
First, notice where you might be retaining breath or not inhaling. Is the breath in your belly or your chest? Is it coming in through your nose or your mouth? Try to breath through your nose, a breath that in yoga is called Ujjayi breath or ocean breath. Relax the jaw and press the tongue to the roof of your mouth, creating the sound of the ocean. The breath should be audible to yourself and maybe someone that is right next to you. Focus on making your inhale and exhale the same length of time. Then with each inhale/ exhale, try elongating the time of your breath.
Mantra (positive intention, affirmation, or sound)
I like to start every day and every practice with a mantra or positive intention. Depending on what I need that day, whether it be peace, clarity, love, or a Sanskrit sound like Om or The Mantra, Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung. The key is to find a word or sound that resonates with you and what you want to embody; a word that you can come back to when a difficult moment arises.
Every pose in yoga has a focal point in which to look and depending on your ability and/or health, it changes. For instance, looking down is known for being more calming and looking up is more energizing. However in balancing poses, we want to focus at the level of our eye line, then once that is mastered, gazing upward is the next step. Focusing on a point on the body or focal point in the room steadies the mind, therefore creating harmony and balance within the body.
B.K.S. Iyengar said, “Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.” -teaching us to see the beauty in everything, especially ourselves.