How to be present

This afternoon, when I walked into the hot room to set up my mat, there was a girl on her mat, playing with her phone. Now, I don’t know what she was doing, or who she was talking to, but it struck me as odd. Why would you bring your phone onto your mat? True, there were ten minutes left until class started, but what happened to laying on your back, closing your eyes and just being?

I’m not judging, and I’m not always present during my practice. I do sometimes pick out what I’ll be wearing tomrrow (striped shirt with the pink bow) or decide what to eat after class. I just think it’s too bad that people can’t be with themselves for ten minutes.

Here are my tips for being present before, during, and after your practice, so that you get the most out of it.

1. Set an intention

Take a moment to think about why you’re practicing. Do you need to de-stress or relax? Do you need to move some energy around? I usually intend to find joy during my practice. What brings me joy will depend on the day I’ve had, so my practice is always different. Come back to your intention a few times, and it will help keep you present.

2. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want

If you tell yourself you’ll focus on your breathing, you’ll have a much better chance of actually doing it than if you keep telling yourself you’re not going to think about work, or that fight you had, or that person who drives you crazy. Help your mind out a little.

3. Don’t worry about it

If your mind wanders, don’t beat yourself up. Just come back to your practice. It might happen 12 times in one minute, then maybe 7 times, then 3, then 1. Eventually, you’ll get a minute where you are totally focused on your practice and your breathing and it will be perfect. If you catch yourself thinking about how perfect that minute was instead of your breath, don’t worry, just come back to it.

4. Know that every day is different

Yoga is different every time you practice. Your mind and your body are not the same from day to day, so you can’t expect your practice to be either. Maybe you had that perfect minute yesterday, but it’s nowhere to be found today. No worries, you can still find joy. Try again tomorrow.

5. Don’t bring your phone onto your mat

You know. Just don’t.

Now see how many of these you can apply to your life off the mat. Breathe. Be present. Find joy. Don’t worry. Let go of your phone.

just breathe

Enjoy the moment

There are few moments in life where it’s good to be selfish. Really and truly selfish. Where it’s all about you and only you.

Today, as I started a power yoga class, Laurie, the awesome teacher, told us to be selfish. That’s never been the word that comes to mind when I think about yoga. But it makes sense. When I’m on my mat, it’s my yoga, my practice, my time. When I’m off my mat, I live my yoga differently. It’s about community and sharing. It feels good to be selfish every once in a while.

My energy level today was medium. Medium low, actually. I planned on just doing what I could and sitting out whatever I didn’t feel like doing. I imagined it would involve chair pose twists and a few updogs. As soon as class started, however, I forgot what I had planned. I did all the twists, but put my knee down in side plank. I enjoyed the moment I was in, then moved on to the next one. If I wasn’t feeling it, I modified. It was a great, medium-energy-level practice.

I was selfish today. I did my own practice, not my teacher’s. I didn’t care if everyone saw me take child’s pose instead of half-moon. I didn’t beat myself up because I didn’t stay in crow pose as long as I usually do. My yoga, my practice, my time. Bliss.

moment

My yoga pet peeves

If you’ve been reading my posts at all, you know that I love yoga. More than chocolate. If I had to choose between yoga and a cupcake, I would choose yoga. Most days, anyways.

But, even when you do something you love, there are those annoying little things that keep life interesting. Yoga is no different. Here are my top 10 yoga pet peeves:

1. People who walk on my mat.

If I don’t know you, or you’re not the teacher, don’t put your sweaty feet on my mat. Please.

2. People who om like it’s an olympic sport.

We get it, you have good lungs. It’s a group thing, we don’t want to just hear you.

3. When the yoga teacher says “Reach out and touch your neighbor”.

Eww, really? It’s hot yoga, I’ve got sweat dripping into my eyes and even my hair is sweating, and you want someone to touch me? Even more gross, you want me to touch someone else? Yuck!

4. Pep talks

I know, it’s weird to put that in my pet peeves. Pep talks are usually good. But when you decide to sit out a pose and the teacher chooses that moment to encourage the class to “give it all you’ve got!”, well, you kind of feel like she’s talking to you.

5. When bad yoga happens to good people

I went to a yoga workshop and the teacher messed up all the names of the poses. Plus, he made all these weird “mmmmmm” sounds. I felt like he was checking me out. He was very pretentious and obviously thought he was amazing. He wasn’t.

6. Pretzel-like people

You’re flexible. That’s great. Could you move your mat to the other side of the room please? Thanks so much!

7. People who mess with my savasana

If you’re going to leave early, could you do it before I enter my coma-like blissful state? Also, to the yoga teacher who once told the class “don’t think about your laundry, your dishes or all the other things you need to get done”, that had the exact opposite effect.

8. Yoga advice

I love yoga¬†advice from my teachers or fellow yogis. But, if you don’t do yoga, please don’t tell me about the dangers of the practice just because you read an article about it.

9. Freestylers

If you want to take breaks, then by all means, take breaks. I do. In fact, last night I might have spent more time in child’s pose than actually doing Amber’s core stuff. But when everyone is facing the back, and you’re facing the front, it’s weird. If we’re all in tree pose, and you’re doing a headstand, that’s weird too. If it happens once, maybe you got confused. If it happens a lot, I’m going to think you’re trying to mess me up on purpose.

10. People who breathe too loud

I know! It’s yoga. Breathing is a part of it. I get it, I do it, I’m not complaining about that. My problem is more with the Darth Vader like breathers who sound like they have awake sleep apnea during savasana. It’s the part of class where we’re supposed to go back to our natural breath.

I like to laugh at all the little things that bug me. I’m quirky. (That sounds better than whiny.) But really, I enjoy my practice so much, it wouldn’t matter if all those things happened in the same class. But remember, keep your feet on your own mat!¬†Namaste!