One of my all-time favourite yoga photographs is of a woman in a headstand. Her baby has crawled over to her, pulled at her top, and started breastfeeding. The woman continues her steady gaze, following her breath, and practicing yoga. If you can practice yoga in the chaos around you, then you will be training yourself to be the calm of the storm in life as well. Take heed.
With the shift to online life, many of us have become accustomed to seeing cats walk across keyboards, dogs jump up on laps and kids come right up to the screen and within 10 seconds flat have added a happy face border to your video.
One of the benefits of online yoga is that it empowers you to practice in your home. It takes away the stress of the commute and allows you to commit to practice more often. It is also a place where kids play, dogs play and cats saunter. In fact, it's their home. These kids and pets become part of the online yoga community as we exchange names and breeds or introduce our little people and ask how old they are.
Practicing in our home environment can be filled with distractions. This is not a bad thing! Learning how to turn your attention back to your yoga practice and your breath when distracted is enormously beneficial in life.
Breath is the secret sauce that makes yoga, yoga. Without it, we end up just doing acrobatics on the mat. Breath during a yoga practice becomes our Drishti or our focus point. There is no expectation in yoga that your mind will not get distracted or wander. The practice is to see how quickly you can notice that you are no longer present. Either you've been distracted by something in your environment or a niggle in your body, or your mind is busily predicting the future or ruminating on the past. Your attention is no longer on your practice and you are no longer present, here in this moment. This is not a problem. In fact, it's expected that this will happen. How quickly can you return to being present? That's the game.
Breath is a 'now' phenomenon. There is no other time breath is happening. So when you bring your attention back to the breath, you bring yourself back into the present moment. It's a simple practice, but not always easy to do. You notice when you're not present and you bring yourself back by placing your attention on your breath. Feel the physical sensation of your breath and keep your attention there.
This practice is training a function of our brain called attention-regulation. The more you train the brain in returning your attention to the breath in a yoga practice, the stronger that ability becomes and you'll find yourself less distracted and more present off the mat as well. Yoga is not just a physical practice, but it can also positively impact your presence as a person and also impacting what I like to call your human magnetism. This includes who and what you attract in life. Read more here.
So next time your kid or pet crawls on you while in boat pose or downward-facing dog, while ensuring everyone's safety, return your attention to your breath and keep going in your practice.
Remember, there is no top to the mountain of yoga! We simply show up and keep practicing. Each time we do this, we are altering the trajectory of where you're headed and the kind of body you'll live in as you continue to grow older. Come join us on the mat here. And bring your kids and pets with you. They are welcome.
I'll see you on the mat!
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