Yoga teaches us how to reestablish the innate balance that exists between body, mind, and spirit. When our minds get out of balance, they overextend, becoming busy and overworked. As a result, we lose connection to the wisdom of our bodies and the depth of our spirits. Practicing being in the moment trains the mind […]
Kripalu life coaches share their experiences and pearls of wisdom.
Yoga, ultimately, is so much more than Downward-Facing Dog. Rather, it’s a process, the way in which we engage with life, with our experiences, both on and off the mat. Yoga teaches us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and with the mystery of life. It offers us a map to help us get on the path of living our lives to the fullest, and finding the leader within—the inner voice that guides us into discovering who we really are.
The yoga of living asks fundamental questions such as:
What kind of world do I want to live in?
How can I create my own existence?
How do I say yes to my life?
How can we suffer less when faced with tough situations? Think about those times when things don’t go as planned or hoped for—at work, for example, or in a relationship. In these moments, we often wish that things were different: “If only _________.”
But, as Kripalu Senior Life Coach Aruni Nan Futuronsky states in her R&R retreat workshop Riding the Waves, yoga teaches us that we can’t control reality. But, when we allow ourselves to simply be in the present moment, softening our grip and letting go of expectations, we can begin to open our perspectives.
As Aruni says, allowing ourselves to feel whatever it is we’re feeling with any given experience can help us find equanimity with whatever life gives us. From that foundation, we can shift our awareness from struggling to acceptance.
One powerful way to ride the waves of life’s challenges is one of the benchmarks of the Kripalu tradition. It’s a practice called BRFWA, which stands for Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow. Next time you feel anxious or uncertain about a situation you’re facing, try the following techniques and see what happens.
Danna Faulds, Guest Blogger
I didn’t think much about the distant rumble of thunder as I biked along a favorite unpaved rail trail. It was a hot day, and I figured that, if it rained, it would cool things down a bit. There were small, roofed picnic shelters every couple of miles where I could wait out a thunderstorm and then continue on my way, a bit mud-spattered from the puddles on the trail perhaps, but none the worse for wear. And even if I did get a little wet, my clothes would dry quickly in the sun.
A thousand times a day, my mind creates its own little world of expectations and assumptions. I imagine how things will be in the future, plan how to deal with contingencies, and try hard to be on top of things. This was one of those times.
I biked on, glad for the clouds that took the edge off the afternoon heat, unaware of the fantasy realm of presumptions I was living in. When rain began to fall, it was more like a fine mist than actual drops. It felt good on my hot skin, and I thought, Oh, this is nice! It’s even better than the clouds. I immediately revised my inner calculations, seeing myself biking through the mist for just long enough to really cool off, at which point the sun would emerge and gift me with a rainbow.
Coming out of winter’s cold, the earth thaws and so do we. Winter naturally keeps us introspective. Spring, on the other hand, brings out our natural ability to connect and communicate with others.
Here is a simple and elegant system of conscious communication called co-listening, which supports both speaker and listener in clearer, deeper, more connected exchanges. In this model, one person agrees to be the speaker, the other, the listener. For three minutes the speaker simply speaks, expressing his/her feelings, thoughts, and ideas. The listener as the witness remains in silence. When the three minutes are up—use an egg timer or alarm—shift roles. Repeat this for two or three rounds as needed. Regularly used, new depth can be established.
Freedom is offered to both participants. Without comments from another, even well-intended ones, a speaker opens into a fuller range of expression. The listener is freed up to be present, rather than calculating a response. By practicing being present in the moment during communication, deeper connectivity can be reached.
J.L. Johnson, Guest Blogger
I don’t know exactly when or how I came across the Spanish word querencia. Like torschlusspanik and esprit de l’escalier, it simply appeared as one of those foreignisms I’d scribbled down on scrap paper, marking a handy little bridge from feeling to expression that my own language—despite its sprawling infrastructure of a million or so words—had forgotten to build.
Broadly translated, querencia describes a place where you feel most at home. Its literal meaning comes from the world of bullfighting, where querencia refers to “that mysterious little area in the bullring that catches the fancy of the fighting bull when he charges in,” as one writer describes it. “He imagines it his sanctuary … there, he supposes he cannot be hurt.”
That connotation of animal instinct is much of what makes querencia an especially powerful word for me. But instead of a bull in its lair, I think of little Mole in The Wind in the Willows, as he catches the scent of his old burrow while traveling a country road:
[It] suddenly reached Mole in the darkness, making him tingle through and through with its very familiar appeal, even while as yet he could not clearly remember what it was. He stopped dead in his tracks, his nose searching hither and thither in its efforts to recapture the fine filament, the telegraphic current, that had so strongly moved him. A moment, and he had caught it again … Home!
Yogic philosophy teaches us that there is inherent balance between the body, the mind, and the spirit. This unity is our birthright. Unfortunately, as we “grow up,” our minds gain strength and overwhelm these other aspects of ourselves. The mind thinks it is in charge, and tries to run the show—it overpowers the body. And the connection to the spirit often becomes a mere whisper.
Quieting the mind, becoming present in the moment, experiencing what is rather than trying to create what might be or remaining stuck in what was, are the doorways to freedom from the busy mind. Our minds need to be trained to be an effective ally. It is our responsibility to quiet the mind by entering into the moment—the power of that pause is profound.
Here are some simple yet effective suggested practices to bring the power of pause into your daily life:
It’s easy to lose connection with our feelings. In this fast-paced world, with all the responsibilities that we carry, we are often exhausted by the day’s end. Self-connection is pushed to the side in the face of our busyness and the time devoted to others. This is the moment to consider getting in touch with your own heart and reconnecting to your essence.
The center of the body is the seat of the heart chakra, the energy center that contains our ability to give and to receive freely. It’s the seat of compassion and holds within it the more positive emotions of joy, love, and tenderness. When we are too busy to tend to ourselves, we literally shut down our hearts, and our channel for connection and love becomes clogged.