A wonderful teacher-friend, Arun, asks his students at the beginning of each class: what do you want to give today? We invite you, this Valentine’s month, to focus your yoga on giving. Giving to your body, giving to your being, giving to the world around you by giving the best of yourself, in your entirety. Giving is part of love – a core part of it. It takes the emphasis off “achieving” and naturally, creates a space for new energy to flow in. Yoga practice is so much more than an athletic workout – although the body-beautiful images that grace magazines often suggest this! Here are five simple steps to open your heart to your-self through your yoga practice, to enjoy a more loving and harmonious flow…. physically and emotionally, on and off the mat.
1. Focus your awareness within through conscious breathwork (pranayama) to still the chattering busy mind. We love Anuloma Viloma, alternate nostril breathing… like shown with this wonderful, authentic, link here:
2. Explore the art of Pratyahara – withdraw your senses from the outside world – take your mind off our ego-based ideas of what you “think” you want to look like, of whether your asanas are picture perfect and focus your mind inwards, on how your body is feeling.
3. Softness – space – strength – make this your inner-mantra – feel where the softness and space can be felt in your body, feel into the details of your alignment, from big toes, to little fingers, top of the head, find softness and length in the neck, relax your jaw, your tongue, your smile (or frown), soften your gaze and feel your inhaling breath opening up space through your diaphragm, intercostal muscles between your ribs, between the shoulders, heartspace…. and beyond
3. Exhale out any excess tension or resistance, soften any tension, any excess effort, any “trying” whilst retaining the skeletal spaciousness
4.Continue this focus within your practice, softness, spaciousness, strength.… stress-release…. softness, spaciousness, strength…. heart-opening until you come to a seated, cross-legged, siddhasana, easy pose for inner-contemplation.
5. Keeping the same spaciousness and softness in the body and energy, now you have created this space within, listen to the quiet voice inside that comes from the heart. This is the voice of our inner-most world, our soul, our heart-felt feelings. This can be a place where peace can be found, where a space can open up for more love to flow as we let go of the “harder, stronger, faster, deeper” instructions from the mind and dive into the emotional center hidden within you. Listen in, feel, look inside for any resonance and just be, with whatever is coming. Allow any insights or ideas or thoughts to arise without judgement or attachment. This free-space of allowing is full of acceptance, which is a key quality of peace.
Complete your practice by humming…. “Let it be, let it be, let it be.”