Daily Archives: July 16, 2008

Yoga-To Go

There is nothing like unrolling your mat, lying down, breathing deep and getting ready for an hour and a half practice. However, we don’t always have the time to take a class or hire a teacher to come to us.
How can we drop yoga into our busy day?
Well, here are perfect examples of how to infuse yoga into a daily routine.

Drive your Yoga
I talk a lot about driving in my classes. It’s a staple of the Los Angelenos daily routine.
I’m in my car so much, driving to the studio or to your house that the topic is unavoidable. It's on my consciousness consistently. It’s also a great lesson in bringing yoga off the mat and into your life.
If I don’t have time to practice, I must have time between sessions to relax and tune in, in order to be fresh and open when I teach. I can’t teach a class or frazzled and out of breath. No way. And when I’m in my little tin box, puttin’ around town, I am met with a lot of aggression and tension from people dealing with their own circumstances. They used to drive me crazy and now and then, they still do but for the most part, in scenarios when I am up against it, I put myself in their car for a moment to realize that they might be dealing with something that makes them behave in a way that is toxic, aggressive and tense. They know not what they do. They don’t know that their shallow breath and tense features are aging them by decades. Perhaps there is too much heat and ego clouding their car that they are unable to be empathetic to those driving around them. Perhaps they are late to pick up their sick kid. Or perhaps this is a practice they are used no matter where they are going or what is going on in their life. In that scenario, I can only hope they are lead to some peace somewhere daily. It’s always interesting to try putting yourself in another’s position. And then you can simply think about whether you will remember a tense moment on the road or at the grocery or on the subway or anywhere you are around other’s energy in a day, week, month year. Our brains simply can’t hold every memory so don’t hold onto a tense moment. You don’t have room for it.

Moving on…Stress works on all of us in similar ways. Its what we chose to do in those stressful times that is important. If you wanna think of it this way, stress, anger and tension are worth ten bucks apiece. Do you really wanna spend $10 bucks on the mini cooper that cut you off on the 405? I wouldn’t. I’d rather save it so I can use it on the old lady in front of me at the post office who forgot her glasses and is paying for her package in pennies she can’t see. I’m kidding. I’d rather save it in my anger bank because it earns happy interest. For every 10 bucks saved in anger, I earn $20 bucks in calm, delicious, happy joy. Sweet!
So, think about it that way.

Ok, back to my whole deal about finding yoga in your daily day to day.
So, I’m driving to your house and there is a lot of traffic. I can feel it in my neck and shoulders. I can feel the shallow breath and the blood begin to percolate in my veins.
Let’s start by taking a deep breath. That automatically brings me into the present moment. Fill up and soften the entire belly, which is where we hold our stress. As soon as I can soften that whole area, the rest of the body will follow suit.
Try to notice where in the body is tensing up and start to let go. I obviously can’t be a pool of mushy goo whilst driving. Many muscles are engaged. But they don’t have to tense. I tune into long breath or peaceful music on the radio or CD while I keep my gaze forward on the car in front of me only. I think about my fingers on the wheel. I think about my legs. I try to engage only the muscles that absolutely must be engaged in order to drive the car. The right ball of the foot. The rest of the leg can chill out a bit.
The arms can soften but the palms can grip like you would hold onto a grocery cart, not hold on for dear life as if you were hanging off the side of the building. That’ll send the wrong messages to the nervous system and I’ll be a mess. So my hands and right foot are engaged. That’s drivasana. That’s a pose. If I’m paused at a light, I might do a shoulder shrug or head roll. I might release my left palm into my lap face up in a symbol of openness.

In addition, I always try to leave extra early so I can get to where I need to go and not rush. I like having a little bit of time to just sit before transitioning into another space with different energy. Having rushed feelings before even getting into the car is a bad sign. It sends a ripple effect of hell through me and in turn, every driver I see. Be the change you wanna see. I made that up.
Sometimes I don’t have the luxury to leave early. My schedule is packed and their isn’t a lot of time. So I don’t make my schedule that way and I do what I can to have that space.

Ship & Shop your Yoga
If I’m in line at the grocery or post office, I might lift a foot into tree pose or stand in mountain pose (Tadasana), which is simply standing at attention. I shift my awareness to the weight of my body on the inside of the feet, fronts of the feet, backs of the feet then evenly on all four corners of the feet. I might lift both heels and feel the strong engagement of my calf muscles. I might drop into Ujaaii or audible, meditative breath by slightly constricting the base of the throat so I make and ocean sound. Usually it’s too noisy around me for anyone else to notice so I don’t attract attention. This is a great way to pass the time, get my yoga practice in and soon as you know it, you’re at the counter payin’ for your goods. What a good use of time.

Wash your Yoga
If I’m washing dishes, I try to think intently on the glass, bowl or plate I’m washing. The warmth of the water, the tickle of soap. I think about how grateful I am for the meal I ate on that plate. That was fast, the dishes are done, now I can go enjoy the rest of my day in a peaceful state of being whether I unrolled my mat or not.

Eat your Yoga
When I eat a meal, I say a little prayer of gratitude before I eat. If you are out to dinner with friends, no one will even notice you did it. Just close your eyes and say thank you. Take time to eating by being aware of each bite, how it was prepared, if it came from the earth or an animal or processed in a plant. Take a moment to acknowledge everyone involved in making this dish happen to be eaten and enjoyed. If it’s an animal product, take a moment to thank the animal or fish for giving up its life for me to be nourished. If you are a vegetarian, eating with your carnivorous friend, try not to judge him/her for her choices but admire them for being different from you. I try not to have a tv or music playing, just quiet. That’s the hardest part. Especially when I used to be the kind of gal with a banana in one hand, the steering wheel in the other and talking on the phone with my Bluetooth. Too much multitasking is going to lead to indigestion. Even though YOU can focus on ten things at once, your digestive system can’t and that leads to GAS. And gas is expensive. And stinky.

Pencil in your Yoga
When I was told by a very wise man to start scheduling things, the idea made me roll my eyes in disgust. I’m spontaneous and live by the seat of my pants!! I thought.
However, as soon as I started scheduling simple things from meditation to writing to meal times to laundry, a butt load of time opened up to me. I never thought there was enough time to do anything and now I have time to do everything; work, play and practice, be outside and enjoy time with my friends. Now, throw that idea away because you never know when life will throw you for a loop.
Meditate on peace in schedule AND spontaneity, ‘cause really, you just never know.

In summary, it’s challenging yourself off the mat that is the true yoga. If you can remain as relaxed and calm as possible in all situations, whether stressful or mundane, you are living yoga. It’s not easy and I’m not saying I don’t have times when I’m on the road wondering what the heck the guy is doing in front of me, but then I think of all that happy cash I’m earning and get to spend on you!!