Yoga has many translated definitions. It’s more than just a practice, it’s a Sanskrit word. Many define it with the root as “to yoke”, join, or unite. This fits well for the practice as a “mind-body” exercise because you link the mind and body through Asanas (postures or poses) and Pranayama (breath work) and a somatic awareness of who you are and where you are and what your body needs. Others define it as a unity or wholeness with the world around you; a spiritual enlightenment and recognition of your place in this universe. For me, I am striving to achieve anything that resembles peace from my practice.
My daily practice has some days included practicing Sun Salutations or other poses. It has also involved some personal reflection. It has even involved further education about yoga. Mostly it has been a practice of breath because that is what I have found to be most calming of all parts of yoga to me. I picked up Amy Weintraub’s book again a few days ago. I really need to finish it because the library won’t let me renew it again after the 17th. I was re-reading part of the last section before I’d last set it down so that it would be more fluid in my mind and in my reading I wrote a few notes that resonate today more than ever.
I have been using a mantra while I run lately where I tell myself that “my strides are long and propulsive”. This has been very effective for me in both changing my stride to land more on the ball of my foot instead of having a heavy heel strike and in reminding me that I can be fast and stretch out using my whole leg to run with. If you jog with a stroller you may have discovered what I deal with daily, the fear of stepping on the stroller and thereby a shortening of your stride. I have used this mantra for about a month now, possibly more and my time has gotten faster, my legs feel more loose, and I don’t feel heavy in my step as often.
On p.114 of Weintraub’s book she is talking about her daily practice and from that I have taken a new mantra that must stay with me 24/7. “You are bigger than this body, this mind, and these emotions.” I need to remind myself of this daily, not so that I can feel at one with the world around me, but so that I can remember that life and the world around me do not define me. When my body is hurting from a long run, I cannot think that I am getting old or that I am out of shape or that success is not within my grasp. When my mind is clouded and I’m questioning my own judgement I cannot let others make me feel inferior. And, most importantly for me at this time, I must know that I am allowed to feel emotions, but should not be consumed by them.
The emotion I’ve been letting taking control of late is anger. Anger makes me feel helpless and out of control. Anger makes me want to run away and give up my responsibilities and disappear. I am angry sometimes and I don’t know why. When I am happy I always know why I am happy, but lately anger keeps creeping in on me and I want to remember that it does not control me. I am bigger than anger and I am better than anger. I am a happy, loving, caring, talented, smart, and ambitious person who has a lot in her life to be grateful for. Anger has no room in my life.
Here is a little practice that I am going to try for the next few days to help sink this mantra in (also adapted from Weintraub’s book):
From Hero pose I will inhale reaching up to the sky; exhale as I lower into extended Child’s pose; place my hands in prayer position and express my gratitude to myself for being me. I love me and I am bigger than this 33 year old body, this sometimes clouded mind, and these negative emotions.