Finding Empowerment on the Mat

images-2I have been on and off my yoga mat for the last 20 years. I go through times when yoga calls to me, and times when it doesn’t. I used to feel conflicted about this but have found a comfortable relationship with the ebb and flow. I know that when the yearning resurfaces I answer the call.

A year or so ago I found myself drawn to my mat and started taking yoga classes from an inspiring instructor named Roger. Aside from answering yoga’s call, my main motivation for going to that 6am class was that my friends were in it, and if you’re going to get up at a god-awful time you might as well get to see your friends.

I probably dragged myself to Roger’s 6am class more than a few times before I began to look forward to starting my day on my mat in that dimmed yoga studio. I spent years doing vinyasa style yoga. Roger’s approach was totally different. We moved slowly between poses, we held poses in ways that were different from what I had done in the past, and we spent a fair amount of time testing our balance and focus by holding or transitioning through poses while balanced on our toes.

imagesFor the longest time I couldn’t figure out why I was so drawn to Roger’s class. Believe me, there were plenty of times I didn’t even like what we were doing…and yet, I still showed up week after week. One morning, in that softly lit yoga studio, I realized what kept pulling me back to the practice. I felt EMPOWERED. For me that meant I felt connected to myself and to something beyond myself, I felt strong in body and mind, I felt irrepressible.

The practice wasn’t easy but perhaps that was the point. I was tapping into my core – not just my physical core but the core of who I am. I challenged my physical body and during that challenge found myself in a deeply connected and spiritual relationship with myself.

Standing balanced on my toes, moving my body in different directions, feeling the strength in my muscles, a sense of empowerment literally coursed through my body. I felt grounded, strong, connected, energized, alive. I had no time to think about the myriad of questions, thoughts and to do’s that often run roughshod through my mind. I was there, in the moment, in my body, rooted and yet free.

Lessons Learned on the Mat:

  • When I connect with my center I am less easily thrown off balance literally and figuratively.
  • Working on my physical balance impacts the general sense of balance and connectedness I feel in my life.
  • My physical practice often gives me access to my spiritual self.
  • Exercise is a social experience for me. Even if I am standing alone on my mat I am still surrounded by the energy of the others in the room.

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Nourishment in different forms and flavors

IIN CertificateI am a newly minted graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and one of the most compelling concepts I took from the program was the idea of Primary and Secondary Foods. Secondary Foods are the actual foods that we consume. Primary Foods are all the other things in our life that nourish us mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
It doesn’t matter how clean my food plan might be, if I am out of alignment with the things that bring me joy, fulfillment and connection then I will not experience the richness and fullness of the life that I crave.

I have felt this misalignment time and again when I have tried to compartmentalize aspects of my life. My life (body, mind, spirit) rebels and reminds me that it cannot be compartmentalized and separated. Each component impacts the other, and imbalance in one area of my life has ramifications for the other areas of my life.

People need dreams, there's as much nourishment in 'em as foodEmbracing this idea of interdependency reminds me of the importance not only of how I am nourishing myself through what I put into my body but how I am nourishing myself through my activities, my thoughts, and my relationships.

 

 

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