Friday, April 9, 2010

The Path Begins

Every yoga class I teach begins with my students lying on their mats and becoming aware of their inhalations and their exhalations.  As they explore their breath, I gently remind them that yoga is the union of our breath with our spirit, mind, emotions, and body.  Often, as I am saying these words, I wonder if they understand what I am truly saying to them.

We live in a world of distractions, where taking time to move inward is often frowned upon if not openly criticized.  We live 48 hour lives in 24 hour periods not taking time to eat nutritionally, to get enough sleep, to exercise regularly.  We spend more time watching television than interacting with family members.  In our distracted, busy, entertainment driven life, it is hard to slow down and pay attention to that which is not fast and flashy.  This distraction makes it difficult for us to settle into ourselves and center, becoming more aware of our breath, our thoughts, our physical body, our emotions at that moment.  We live life in our small little world, with our "eyes wide shut" to the outer world in which we live.

When we take time to be more flexible, patient, sensitive, centered, we can open ourselves to the world around us.  We become aware of the changing of the seasons; the elderly neighbor who has lost her husband of 60 years on Christmas morning; the mother who has sent her only son to war; the  gradual loss of the rainforest; the miles and miles of plastic bags floating in the Pacific Ocean killing the marine life; the sun setting on the horizon with its brilliant colors of pink and orange and deep blue; a baby's chuckle; our pet's warm greeting when we walk in the door.  As our awareness of life happening around us increases, we often feel an awakening to the effects of our actions on the world around us.  Becoming aware that we can make a difference now, we may begin to strive to live in a more respectful and sustainable way towards the world and all the sentient and nonsentient beings living on this globe with us.

In yoga, as we connect our breath to our flowing in and out of our poses, we may allow ourselves to still our body and mind, while releasing the negative emotions and tensions that we may be holding in our body.  In this moment, we can engage ourselves, putting down our defenses that separate us from one another and the world around us.  We may make a conscious choice to accept our interconnectedness with one another and the world, much like the waves of the ocean flowing into each other with a blurring of where one wave begins and another ends.  Just the flow of the waves rising up and expanding, then falling and softening.  So we begin by lying on our mats and becoming aware of our breath.  On the inhale, we feel the expansion, the rising.  As we exhale, we feel the softening, the letting go....

May you find peace and gratitude in every moment.
Namaste, Joan


  1. To Joan, My best friend. Always at ease even on a day that is crazy in her own head. Tables and chairs to be put together, living room to be made over, walls to be painted, plants to be pruned... All needs to be done... Boxes to be packed... All is still calm... husband to be attended to , children to be accounted for... All is still calm... Parties to be planned, parents not to be forgotten, lakes to be floated upon... all is still calm... All is still calm..... Thank you for being my friend...

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  3. I cant say I have done yoga before, but by the sounds of it I probably should. There are times in my life that I have to get all my frustrations out or I will burst!!!! So I go home and sit on my computer thinking that I will look up something, and all I can think of is email and weather... Boaring!!! My mind just goes BLANK!! If I could just find the energy and time!!! Let the peaceful thoughts flow...