Friday, April 16, 2010

Coming back to the breath

I've been feeling scattered lately -- I have many tasks I need to get done, and many more activities that I'd prefer to be doing, and I've been jumping from one activity to another without being particularly effective at any of them.

There are all of the daily "domestic" jobs I need to do -- cooking, cleaning, buying groceries; all of the day-to-day "business" activities I need to do (luckily I don't mind most of these!), as well as long-term planning for sessions and new classes.   Then there was income tax preparation -- that took over a large chunk of my life last week!   And all of the other activities I want to do just because I want to do them -- read novels, blog (yes, I enjoy this a lot!), photograph our spring flowers (the daffodils were glowing in the sun yesterday), go birding or just walking along the Huron River with my husband, keep up with what my sons and daughter-in-law are doing,  write more Squidoo lenses,  do my online puzzles, maybe watch some videos with my husband. 

And of course I need my yoga practice!!

I have notes to myself stuffed in my purse and all over my desk to try and keep track of all I hope to accomplish during any particular day or week.

It's all good, but I'm realizing that lately I'm always thinking about the next few jobs on my to-do list before finishing what I'm currently doing.   Even during my yoga practice,  I too often stop to write a note, or check my email, or add to the grocery list.

So, what to do?  Well, I should take my own advice, for starters, and take time to be quiet, practice being present, and pay attention to my own breath.
This week in class we've been doing quiet restorative work.  All of you who've been in class this week have done supta baddha konasana (see picture) along with practicing simple breath awareness while in this pose.

Those of you with more experience did a bit more work with the breath -- deepening the inhalations and exhalations (ujjayi breath), and in a couple classes, we practiced an interrupted inhalation (Viloma inhalation).

I could see after you came out of these poses, especially after working with the breath, that most of you were very quiet and calm.

Paying attention to the breath is a powerful way to bring us back to the present moment.   The focus on the inhalations brings an alertness to our minds, and the focus on the exhalations is very quieting and relaxing.   Practicing our breath awareness helps us to let go the "scattered busy-ness" of our minds, and to bring us to a state of calmness.   Maybe you're taking a few easy relaxed breaths right now as you're reading this.  Can you feel the calmness that it brings?   Go find a place to sit or lie down quietly for 5 - 10 minutes today, and do more!

I did my pranayama (breath) practice this morning after a few days of neglecting it, and I've been much calmer and more focused today than I have over the past week.       It brought me back to the feeling of "Oh yeah, I'm here now, and it's a good place to be."

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