Physical fitness and caring for the body have always been important to me. In my twenties and thirties, I was very busy with four children and running was my perfect outlet. I was fast and I could do it anytime, anywhere (and I did). Running was a moving meditation.
In my forties, I wanted more. I wanted balance and flexibility; I wanted peace. I felt a calling to slow down, to become mindful, to listen to my body and nurture it from the inside out. The more I practiced, the more I wanted to learn, the more grounded I felt. I went to class every day, sometimes twice. This became my time to find myself.
Leading up to my 50th birthday, I decided to get my yoga teacher certification and have never looked back. Yoga is the full package for me. It keeps me physically fit and grounded full stop.
Yoga is a moving and breathing practice, moving the body through a specific series of postures with a meditative breath. Yoga is a practical aid—it is not a religion. Yoga by definition means yoking and the union of the mind, body, and soul. Yoga is the coming together of people and community. The yoga studio was my sanctuary, my place to find grounding. Over the course of the last few years I have taught and practiced yoga daily with passion and I thought I had nailed it. I was living yoga. I was liberated, I was free... and then came COVID. I had to readjust. I had to dig a little deeper to find my peace.
The week the pandemic was announced, I was in yoga class every day. I taught a class the day the doors to the studio were later shut. That is where the real yoga began, that is when I had to find my grounding. What would I do without my rituals?
I'm sure I'm not alone. I did what I had to do to feel grounded during these unprecedented times. I created my space at home and I found my yoga. Along with taking care of my body internally and my mind, I've been able to set up a successful home practice. Below, I'm sharing the steps that have helped instill peace during this wild time.
Set the Foundation
Before committing to a yoga practice, you'll need to set the groundwork with two important factors: your space and your time.
Set up your sacred space: Find a space big enough for your mat with room to move and breath. Make it sacred and clear of distractions. I have practiced yoga in every room in my house and now have a perfect space where I feel at ease. When you set up your space with your mat and props like blocks or bolsters, you will know when you feel at home. Don’t worry about what it looks like, worry about what it feels like. Make peace with where you are.
Set up a time: At the onset of the pandemic, I practiced at sunrise, but have had to adjust as circumstances changed. I started with online classes and have moved to my own private practice, just doing my own flow. Make the time for your home yoga practice and commit to it. Flexibility is key: remember, you can practice any time of day if something comes up. If you are taking online classes, have a spot to prop your phone or computer. When practicing, allow the teacher to guide you and listen to your body. Yoga is a practice of holding on and letting go—show up for you.
Move With Intent
Exercise is key during stressful times. When we exercise, the body releases hormones that keep us calm. There are many forms of exercise, but yoga as exercise is the most complete. The asanas provide a stretch that will help lubricate the ligaments and tendons and strengthen the muscular skeletal system. The benefits of yoga are far greater than the physical body. In yoga, you will find grounding and the perfect balance between strength and ease. The mind slows down when the body is moving. You can’t think about what’s going on in your life when you’re moving your body through challenging postures. The asanas, when practiced in a slow mindful manner, are the key to finding inner peace.
When you move your body with your breath, you flush and flow, move and breathe, and let go of everything that doesn’t serve you. Set your intention—a wish, a prayer—be mindful, get up, and set up and start your home practice. Find your yoga and glow from the inside out.
Nourish the Body from the Inside Out
Eating a diet rich in whole foods and staying properly hydrated is very important for us. The yogic diet consists of foods that are easily digested and foods that promote good health and keep you vibrant (like vegetables, ghee (clarified butter), fruits, legumes, and whole grains.). Our body is our temple—we must nourish it from the inside out. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.
Practice the Pause
Make time every day to rest and take a pause. Finding time to rest and relax is very important during stressful times. The body heals when we are at rest. Calm the mind and body—give your body a chance to refuel, and give your mind a chance to slow down. Find the time to sit in stillness and breathe, relax, and let go. The mind must be calm and balanced in order to stay in control, and the more you practice, the more clearly you will think and your ability to concentrate will improve. Meditation is a part of the yoga practice and it is a practice that you can do anywhere, any time. Just breathe.