How To Do Tricky Things

photo-1
How To Do Tricky Things

 

The secret to doing tricky things is not to act like it’s so tricky.

 

Everything you do, begin in the same way. Take a breath, check in, see what you’re working with. Then move on in, and stay easy.

 

If you get rigid and tense, it’s like flying a space shuttle without the computer. That’s an awful lot of complex calculations to process yourself. It’s likely to give you a headache!

If you stay easy, you’ve got the best computer in the world supporting you. Your body knows what to do. You just need to relax enough to let it do its thing.

This is a very different approach from traditional yoga, which requires that we carefully memorize a rigid set of rules to do each thing “correctly.” Looking around, I haven’t seen this rigid approach work well; it seems to make people less capable in yoga and in their lives, rather than more.

Occasionally and with great struggle, the traditional rules seem to get people into some poses, along with a pileup of injuries and chronic pain. For most of us, that’s not what we’re after. We want to feel good and move capably through an inspiring life. We want to support others to do the same.

 

Practice letting tension leave your body, rather than putting tension in. Practice living your life from the inside out, rather than the outside in.

 

Your yoga will get better this way. Your health and your life will also get better this way. Don’t worry about memorizing other people’s rules. Relax enough that you can feel, and respond to what you feel. This is how you find your intuition. This is how you make your own rules, and make your own life.

Have fun with that!

:) Mike

 

How Do I Quiet My Mind?

Tara Stiles
How Do I Quiet My Mind?

 

Move to be still, and to be still, move.

 

If you want to quiet your mind, move. Connect & feel into every part of you. Say hello to everything you’ve got. When the conversation settles, you can be still.

 

If you want to move, quiet your mind. Breathe and feel. When you feel what you’ve got to work with, you can work with it. You’ll move very well. When you’re still, feeling, you can move.

 

Try doing both at the same time! Try doing yoga.

 

Ask Strala : I need a meditation intervention!

294872_10150305218623666_4809800_n
Ask Strala : I need a meditation intervention!

 

Question

I know meditation is good for me.  But, every time I start, my mind just runs away. I can’t just sit and get quiet and watch the universe unfold like I’m supposed to. Please help!

 

Answer

Don’t worry about clearing your mind.

It’s easy to fall into the belief that the goal of meditation is to have a crystal clear mind so you can see into all the secrets of the universe.

Don’t worry, plenty of cool experiences are going to happen to you. There is no need to get wrapped up in getting to everything right away. Also the mind wanders, that’s just what it does. Every time thinking wanders in and carries you off on a journey, the practice is just guiding your attention back to your breath, back to feeling.

 

Notice when your mind wanders. If you’re noticing, then you have a choice. You can go along for the ride, or you can guide your attention right back inward. When your mind wanders again, see if you can redirect it back in, again. See things as they happen. Guide your attention back to breathing and feeling. That’s your practice.

 

Movement exists in balance. Sure, you will experience clear moments here and there, and maybe for longer stretches of time. That’s super awesome. Keep guiding yourself back. Seeing that you have the choice, and making it, is also super awesome.

Make the goal the process, not the destination.

xo – Tara

 

PS – Want to get more into your meditation? Mike and I created a course on MindBodyGreen to help :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Strala : How can I fight anxiety & depression?

554415_10151344946423666_877310022_n
Ask Strala : How can I fight anxiety & depression?

 

Question

I have so much anxiety and I’m always feeling depressed. I really want to fight it out. I want to be happy again. Can you help?  Are there some yoga methods I can use here?

 

Answer

The short answer is, breathe and feel.  

Anxiety makes your body and mind a home for tension and stress.  This can become a closed loop.  When you’re anxious, you become tense and immovable, in your body and in your mind.  You want to fight out that anxiety and tension.  But fighting only gets us stuck in more tension, more stress, and more depression.

You can get unstuck from this loop.

 

Rather than work for your yoga poses, make your yoga work for you.

 

Don’t worry about the poses.  Breathe deep, move easy.  Breathe and move into every inch of your body, in every direction you can possibly move.  Go slow.  Feel.

Every long breath in, feel your body lifting, expanding, strengthening.  Hold at the top of your breath a bit, see how it feels, all this new space around you.  Every long breath out, feel your body softening, relaxing, easing into this new space.  That’s your space.  You’ve just created it.  And you can do this any time you want.  It’s always yours.

 

The thing is, you feel good.  When you breathe deep enough to feel, and move slow enough to respond to how you feel, you can’t help but become your own best caregiver.  You’re very capable.

 

Anxiety has a way of shutting down this feeling pathway, making us feel less capable, which isn’t fun.  You can open things up again.  You always have this ability.  You can always create this space.  You can always release tension and stress from your body and mind.  You just need practice.

 

Use your yoga time for practicing poses, you’ll get good at poses.  Use your yoga time for practice feeling and creating space, you’ll get good at everything there is.  You can do it!

 

Doing Hard Things the Easy Way

photo-2
Doing Hard Things the Easy Way

We’re good at what we practice.  It’s possible to do hard things the hard way, and it’s also possible to do hard things the easy way.  Often we get stuck in the first, because how could it be any other way?  Hard things are hard!  So it’s all we practice, doing hard things the hard way.  But it’s just as possible to practice the other way: easy in the midst of impossible challenges, movable in the face of immovable obstacles.

So how do we practice this?  Here’s a way to begin:

1) Soften.  If you’re already tense before you begin, it’s not going to get any better.  You’ll move into rock like a rock, which tends to result in something breaking!  Exhale.  Soften through every part of your body.  Put a little bend in your elbows and knees.  Be movable.  If someone was to give you a push, you’d ripple easily rather than topple over.  Move into rock like water, and you’ll flow right where you need to go.

2) Inhale deep.  Often when something is hard, we hold our breath.  Our muscles tighten, preparing for war!  We become immovable, and can only move with tremendous force and effort.  There’s another way.  Begin challenging movements with your breath rather than your muscles.  A very deep inhale will start the lift, expansion, and strengthening of your body, overcoming inertia with little effort.  The work you need from your muscles then follows more naturally and easily.  You’ll get the same force without tension and without tiring.

Of course, this takes practice.  But like yoga in general, you don’t have to take it on faith.  You can experience it every step of the way for yourself, just by jumping in.  You’ll notice right away how much easier it is to move through your whole body when your arms and legs are easy rather than stiff like solid rocks.  And you can feel how very deep breaths give lift and lightness to your body, even when you’re simply standing still.  With practice, you can create the same tireless strength in any situation.

In time, you can use all this to pull off some neat tricks in yoga class, no struggle required.  More interestingly, you’ll find it helps you along your way in creating a happy, healthy, capable life.

Talk soon,

Mike