Embrace the unsexy* aspects of yoga (because they’re vital)

Most yoga teachers sigh a bit when they hear the word ‘yoga’ being used interchangeably with ‘asana’ (the psychical postures). I did too, then over the past year I slowly dropped the meditation (no time) and the breathing (gotta get in there, do my stretch and get out).

The results were quick. Anxiety got louder and quickly I reverted to my super intelligent anxiety remedy of trying to control people, places and things.

My breathing was tight and high in my chest. In anxiously controlling my outside world (house, work, family), I was really trying to calm the chaos that raged inside. I wonder if others feel this too? And just to seal the deal, I added that old ‘but I’m a yoga teacher I shouldn’t feel this way!’ stick and beat myself heartily with it.

I had a tool that I knew worked, but my mind was too busy to sit in meditation. So I started small with ‘life meditation’. Pausing to take three breaths before I got out of the car. Waiting a little longer before putting headphones in on a walk and listening to the birds, cars, my breathing instead.

You know what happens then, right? You feel everything you’ve been avoiding, which in my case means the chaos comes back, big and loud. It’s uncomfortable.

But then eventually a funny thing happens. Slowly (sometimes very slowly), you notice those little muscles around your eyes start to soften. You breathe a little deeper. And then when the chaos starts to reign outside – and it will – you don’t bite anyone’s head off. That’s an important first step!

Over the past few months I’ve found that those chaos-reigning days are often the ones that end up being the most fun. Meditation and mindfulness triggers my ‘ah, fuck it’ mode in a really good way, and as a result I feel more connected, the fine layer of cat hair and baby detritus that covers every surface in the house doesn’t seem like a national emergency and a reader’s email telling me I got something grossly wrong can wait a little longer to be read.

So yes! Boring old meditation and breathing – get into it!


(*I don’t mean to imply this person I photographed in the Sivananda Ashram in Keral is unsexy.)

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