Does it feel like the world is moving faster and faster and you are always running behind, just trying to keep up? It can be exhausting! At least that is my experience and probably exacerbated by living in a big city like Los Angeles. It is quite similar to keeping up with traffic, just attempting to get from point A to point B as fast as you can. Life easily starts to feel frantic and empty. The culprits are impatience, anxiety, and stress …. to name just a few.
Yoga to the rescue! Through my yoga practice I slow down and am able to connect to the deepest part of myself. I plug in. I literally have the moment of, “Oh, there I am”. I am no longer caught up in the speed at which the world is moving, nor lost in the world around me. I am centered and able to observe the outside and myself with more clarity and compassion.
When I teach yoga, I like to encourage students to slow down as well, so they can tune-in and experience the present moment. I am well aware of some of the “racehorses” in my classes and feel their impatience and resistance…. they want to run. I get it, they are used to a certain speed and slowing down can indeed be challenging and frustrating. Some flow classes move at a fast pace in order to build heat and provide an intense workout. Sometimes we need that in order to disconnect from our mind. We just have to make sure that we are not overusing or misusing our body in the process. Slowing down our practice is a brilliant way to reconnect, and it does not necessarily mean that the practice becomes easier, but it very likely will become richer and more enjoyable. When we slow down, we are able to focus on better alignment, effectively engage the muscles to support the joints, and luxuriously extend our breaths. Going back to the highway analog: The moment we become aware that we are speeding, we “wake up” – we become conscious, and then we can choose to decelerate. When we slow down it is easier to pinpoint obstacles, such as potholes, turns, exits, etc. We realize that we can prevent or reduce future suffering. We start to observe the landscape and very likely start enjoying the journey. In fact the journey is the goal.
As we mature in our practice, the experience becomes more investigative and meditative. We are able to go more deeply inside and feel a sense of inner calm and equanimity. We approach the practice from within. Meditation starts to happen more naturally and spontaneously. Ultimately, we discover, that yoga is so much more than gymnastics and form. Yoga is a gateway to our inner body, to our spirit, a way for us to realize the interconnectedness of all.
Birgitte Kristen is a YogaWorks teacher, YogaWorks teacher trainer, and MyYogaWorks online yoga instructor. Birgitte’s yoga classes offer a mindful, methodical, and meditative approach to yoga where she encourages students to slow down and to listen to their bodies, to respect and honor themselves. Check out Birgitte’s website, take one of her online yoga classes on MyYogaWorks, one of her public classes at YogaWorks Santa Monica, or connect with her on Facebook.