When I escaped to the jungle that first time, I didn’t do yoga. Yes, it was a yoga retreat, but that wasn’t the point. I was exhausted and needed a respite.
But the yoga hooked me. My body never felt better. My mind was calm and my soul filled. I began practicing every day at home and enrolled in several immersions and teacher trainings to learn more.
Without even knowing or trying, I changed. That’s the magical part of yoga. All those funny little cues that apply to the asana (physical practice) are transformative off the mat.
Soft. Slow. Smooth. The breath cues are constant through a yoga class. The more I practiced conscious breathing on the mat, the more I found myself pausing off the mat. Noticing and slowing my breath. Before a meeting or a difficult conversation. Washing dishes. Driving in my car. I practiced the simple and powerful discipline of breathing and discovered more calm and presence.
There are rituals involving a clean studio. Fold the mats and blankets. Sweep the floor. Arrange the blocks. I eventually cleared the space around my mat. I found that I didn’t need my hair ties, sweatshirt, props, and water bottle — my immediate yoga space became clean and uncluttered.
Without a conscious decision, this happened at home. Visual cleanliness. I purged the unnecessary. What remained was what was beautiful and meaningful. My physical environment became free of distractions. By removing the unnecessary, I create space to invite more beauty, calm and clarity.
Gaze at the end of your finger. Focus on a spot in front of your hands. Turn your internal gaze to the space between your eyebrows. Trace your breath traveling up and down your torso. Yoga asana guides me to concentrate on a single point of focus.
Despite the pull to check email or click on browsers, I found myself single-tasking at work. I tackled one thing at a time — from start to finish — for a minimal interval. The single pointed focus and concentration that I practiced on the mat translated to my being more focused, productive, and efficient off the mat.
Why this matters?
When we add all of the above – intentional breath, removal of distractions, single focus – I found myself with more energy because I wasn’t wasting my energy. I found greater clarity because I’d learned to reduce and ignore the noise. I could really tap into that wise, intuitive voice that always knows the answer.
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