Monica B. Staley
The Top 3 Things I Love about Yoga
Updated: Jan 13, 2020
1. If you've made it to your mat, you've "arrived" in yoga.
Seriously, that's what I tell my students & fellow yogis. True yoga exists in a space without expectation, judgement, pressure, hurry, rights/wrongs. There's certainly safe ways to do the physical practice of yoga, but most everything is yogi's choice. If you've carved out the time for your physical and/or mental body, on your mat, then welcome to yoga.
In the beginning of every class, we close our eyes and I offer a few moments for us to come up with an intention or dedication for our practice. To me, this is someone or something that could use or provide some energy throughout our practice. When a posture is challenging, when we lose sight of our breath, it's this thing, person, or concept that we might use to guide us through or guide us to rest. Perhaps it's motivating, inspiring, grounding. I tell my students whatever comes to their mind first, is likely their perfect intention or dedication. And, if there's not a specific thing, person, or concept that comes to mind, that's perfect too. I may offer one up, and use it as my reoccurring theme throughout practice. Gratitude is my number one favorite class theme (intention/dedication).
When I first started practicing yoga in the summer of 2015, I was pretty grossed out by all the breath going on around me. I don't remember when that changed, but I'm really glad it did. In vinyasa practice, or breath to movement practice, we use a breath called "Ujjayi Pranayama"... I wish I could hear how that sounded in your mind :) There's a victorious nature that this breath provides, supporting us as we move from posture to posture. It's an audible, textured breath. A deep inhale through the nose, and a deep exhale through the nose... placing a slight constriction on the back of the throat on the exhale. Think if you were intending to fog up a mirror, with your mouth closed. This breath works with our body. For example, inhale lift your body halfway, exhale fold forward. In a room of seasoned yogis, it's pretty powerful... the room is alive with breath and movement!
It's impossible for me to identify my favorite yoga pose. It's equally impossible for me to identify my one favorite non-pose part of yoga... but my top three are: 1) it's all about making it to your mat; 2) the intention/dedication; and 3) personal/class breath. And, if you've never practiced yoga, I encourage you to give it a try!
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