June 12, 2010

Weird Science

a fast mind is a sick mind
a slow mind is a sound mind

That yoga must be grueling, sweaty and intense in order to bolster weight loss is a grave misconception. 108 sun salutations, holding crow for 12 breaths and five straight minutes of leg lifts and navasana abs are a great 'workout', but what differentiates yoga from other physical routines is the space it creates between our thoughts. It is in those spaces where lasting change happens.

A slim and adorable girlfriend of mine, to my utter shock, but also private understanding, revealed one night over dinner that just as men are said to think about sex every thirty seconds, some days the issue of weight is on her mind as much if not more often. Yoga, and especially the pranayama and meditation that goes with it, can sooth these demons more than exercise alone.

I get a lot of questions on the topic of weight and wanted to state my view this one time, but:
As a rule, I do not like to indulge in, and will no longer address "weight" as I prefer to discuss "health."

Choose a yoga practice that BALANCES your lifestyle, rather than aggravating it. If CHANGE is what you want, it must bring something new to the table (rather than twenty more push-ups, excuse me, chaturangas, to the already A-type, aggressive personality.) If you already have a yoga practice, is it exaggerating existing conditions or appeasing them?

~Do you feel anxious, self-conscious or insecure? Choose a room without mirrors and a teacher -maybe even clientele as well- with whom you won't make comparisons (not a twenty-something girl if you are one yourself.)

~Is your day-to-day filled with gossip and socializing? Choose a studio where you know no one, and attend class solo. Pick a spot in the room where you feel you are on your own island.

~Do you work from home? Find a studio with a community feel where yogis mingle after sipping tea and noshing on fruit.

~Lazy? Ashtanga!

~High-strung, busy, over-worked, American (haha)? Viniyoga, Yin Yoga, or stretch.

~All over the place? Injured? Iyengar... (my current love.)

Be honest, what do you really need for balance- not what does your EGO want. Yoga will create change only if you allow it to.

Oxygen Bar: Pranayama

Breathe to overcome temptation: inhale deeply and as you exhale OM to yourself. Om-ing is often viewed as a sharing of noise, concentrate instead on the vibration created within you. Silent OMing is theraputic and can be done anywhere. Yoga is a science and you are the scientist and the science project. Try it and see how it makes you feel.

Breathe to promote clear thinking: mindful alternate nostril breathing. (A conceptual Nadi Sodhana version.) Without physically plugging the nostrils, inhale through the left, exhale through the right, inhale through the right exhale through the left, inhale through the left.... continue and finish by exhaling through the left. I remember this breath as E.I.O. (Old McDonald) breath Exhale, Inhale, Other side.

Breathe for Energy: My favorite breath, the Breath of Joy, is illustrated at the top. Inhale though the nose in three parts swinging the arms forward (breath into belly,) outward (breath into lungs,) and up (breath into chest) and then forcefully exhale through the mouth while making the sound of HA releasing all the air as you bend forward, swinging your arms toward the floor and pulling your navel toward your spine. This breath should be enthusiastic and animated.

1 comment:

RW said...

I love this post, darling! I always go straight for vinyasa/flow, no matter what, and sometimes, I can't quiet my mind or get into it regardless of how hard I try. Lots of food for thought! xoxo, RW