There’s a lot I miss about teaching yoga classes. Aside from leading a class into movement, helping students find out how to make poses work for them, and seeing their calm, happy faces after the class, I miss the meditation.
Before each class, I usually take time to do some breathwork, allow my students to acknowledge the thoughts on their mind, the emotional state they’re in, and just let it be. I don’t offer any wisdom on how they could get by better, I just remind them to breathe. Yes, life can be tough, but we can always clear our minds from time to time, pause, then get back into the thick of things with a fresh perspective.
I think that helps students be more present in their practice and allow the process of learning, which is something I’ve learned from my own teachers.
So on a day that I’m feeling I need it most, when worries seem to be ever-present and loud, when I feel discouraged with disappointing news, when I find that I am so easily offended, and barely surviving emotionally, I listen to this teacher inside me through this meditation practice:
We’ll begin this session lying down. So lie down on your back. Let the feet splay out to the side, legs spread out wide, hands by your side, palms facing up. Bring space in between the armpits and close the eyes.
Slowing down the breath as we slow down the mind…
Begin to bring awareness to the body. Mentally scan the body for any areas of tension and let it go. Relax the shoulders, the arms, the legs. Let go of any tension in between the eyebrows, the jaw, the armpits, the groin area.
Taking one full deep inhale, exhale sigh it all out.
Now bringing the attention to the mind. One by one, begin to gather the thoughts that came to the surface as you allowed yourself to be still.
Maybe these are thoughts about things you’ve recently seen on social media, news you’ve heard, articles you’ve read, or maybe a new series you’ve watched on Netflix.
Maybe these are thoughts about the things you need to do for the day and your to-do list. Or maybe of things you are looking forward to in the days, weeks, or months ahead.
Whatever these may be, gently pick them up and bring them to the side for now.
Let go also of fears and doubts about the future. I know that the current situation can sometimes be so worrisome, and these thoughts though stressful they may be, may serve to protect you too.
Know that whatever it is that you have to face, you can take them up in their own proper time, maybe with a clearer mind and a stronger body. But for now, let’s give your practice the mindful focus it deserves.
Taking a full deep inhale through the nose, gathering all these thoughts, exhale through the mouth and sigh them all out.
Now we turn our attention to our breath. We’re not trying to change anything just yet at this time. Just simply observe how you are breathing right now.
Are your breaths fast or slow, shallow or deep, sharp or soft? There’s no right or wrong here, only gratitude for our breath, and the acknowledgement that this is the state of your breath where we will begin your practice.
Take another full, deep inhale here, and exhale sigh it all out through the mouth.
Now taking a more active control of our breathing, inhale through the nose, and exhale through the nose. With each cycle of breath, try to get the breath deeper, longer, stronger.
If you have an ujjayi breath practice, begin to activate it now. If you’re new and would like to try, inhale through the nose and as you exhale, constrict the back of the throat, keeping the mouth closed, exhale through the nose, making a soft hissing sound.
Take 5 more deep cycles of breath, just like this at your own pace.
When you’re ready, slowly hug your knees to your chest, and roll onto your side. Take another breath here and when you’re ready again, push yourself back up to a seated position.