November 10, 2015
I took my first yoga class 15 years ago. I loved it then, and I love it now. It’s been a great journey, but what’s changed significantly is my reason for practicing. I used to practice as a form of exercise, to increase flexibility, to prepare for childbirth, or to get back into shape after childbirth.
Today, I practice primarily to be a better mother and a better person off the mat. I don’t care anymore about what poses I can and cannot do, or what the person next to me is doing, or what I look like in the postures (asanas).
Today, my yoga practice is 100% for me! (and my sanity)
So, 10 years ago I shifted gears and started practicing a different style of yoga with a new instructor. Even though I’d read and heard time and again that there was more to yoga than the physical practice, this was the first time I actually GOT it. I was actually listening, not just hearing. I practiced with Geri Blier, who taught Anusara yoga, for about 5 years and I learned so much from her (thank you!), but what I’ll always remember and what I always come back to is this……
Fully participate on your mat and IN YOUR LIFE!
On a physical level, it’s a simple concept. Every single posture is designed to use every part of your body. Yes, some poses are back bends and some are focusing on opening your shoulders, or stretching your hamstrings, but whatever you’re doing you should be doing with every part of your body. Even your little pinkie toes should be participating in your poses, especially in your back bends!
And did you know that in standing poses if you focus on grounding the inner edge of the outer back foot, (I imagine a line from my fourth toe to my heel) your lungs respond? The lungs get more spacious and can therefore accept a deeper breath. This continues to blow my mind. I know that body is intimately connected, but feeling and experiencing the proof of it, still amazes me! For healing and expansion, the whole body needs to be active and contribute.
Fully participating off the mat is a little more challenging. I started with the little things, one thing at a time, and I continue to build from there. It’s a practice, just like practicing on the yoga mat, and all of it counts – ALL of it!
It can be applied to a small thing, like knowing there is a huge pile of clean laundry that needs to be folded. Instead of dreading it and expecting someone else to do it, what if there was excitement about folding the clothes AND putting them away! Owning it 100%! “I’m going to fold the laundry and it’s going to be awesome!” Watch and see what happens. When you show up for the task, the clothes might already be folded (a participating husband?), but if not, it’s okay, you’re excited to fully participate in that part of your life.
In the bigger arena of participating in my life, I chose to really show up and be present each night that I put my kids to bed. This has been a catalyst for opening my heart to love. I wasn’t expecting that! I have difficulty with this; feeling love, receiving love and therefore giving love.
I was in a place where our bedtime routine was daunting, exhausting and mundane. These were my expectations – I want this to be fast, easy, and over so that I can have time to myself, clean up the house, read, etc…. Haha! That never ever happened.
Now, the bedtime routine is exactly the same, but my intention behind it is completely different. When I am fully present and fully participating in reading books, brushing teeth, talking with, and snuggling with my kids, what happens is that they still get to bed on time. I still have time to myself, and most importantly, I have more intimately connected with them, thus opening my heart to more love and less ego. More of this, please!
Living with full participation, is owning your life, showing up for everything every time. It’s letting go of expectations, letting go of ego, and in my case – letting go of time constraints.
Whether it’s work, or play, putting the kids to bed, getting the kids ready for school, chores around the house, writing an email, or having a conversation, feel how good it feels to participate and see what shifts with those around you as you move into fully owning your life. You should, you’re the one creating it.
In Health and Healing,