Hello, SOTGC Community,
What is the real meaning of yoga? To bring flexibility into our lives, but not just so we can touch our toes – so we can foster emotional and mental flexibility and deal with life from the inside out!
But even touching our toes isn’t so easy. When he started yoga with me, my husband – new to the practice, encumbered with tight hamstrings and hips – reached eagerly for his toes each time, fingers grasping ever closer as the months passed. He could effortlessly launch himself into headstands and other inversions, but the man could not touch his toes. After six months of patience and practice, he bent deeply enough to touch his toes in a forward fold. The beaming smile on his face was the reward.
If touching your toes is challenging, imagine just how difficult retraining your brain can be! Yoga is as much a mental practice as it is a physical one. Beyond the asanas, or postures, lies the opportunity to open your heart and mind to new ideas and possibilities, whether at work or at home. Again, patience and practice are the keys: investing in the following five tips can produce results that will enhance your life.
5 Easy Ways to Cultivate Openness and Flexibility
1. Slow down! Breathe. Resist the urge to multi-task and focus on one activity at a time, becoming flexible in your schedule and open to new activities and outcomes.
I used to start one activity (e.g., making the bed) and ditch it halfway through for the next item on my to-do list (coffee, dishwasher, email, bills, laundry). And so on. Result? The tasks go half-completed, and there are throw pillows all over the bedroom.
2. Listen! Make eye contact with the person with whom you are speaking. Being fully present will allow you to be open and engaged in the conversation. Do not simply wait for your companion to finish talking so you can launch in. Listen.
3. Meditate! Set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier. Sitting quietly with your eyes closed, set a positive intention for your day. Picture yourself smiling and open with everyone with whom you interact that day.
Explore! Try something new every day, and resist the urge to drift into complacency. Try a new breakfast, a new route to work, a new exercise class. Allow yourself to be flexible in your daily activities and open to new ones.
Remember, as Rosalind Russell reminds us in Auntie Mame, “Life is a banquet, and more poor suckers are starving to death!”
5. Yoga! Get on your yoga mat as frequently as you can. Enough said.
Like touching your toes, cultivating mental openness and flexibility is challenging but not impossible. Both just take practice, practice, practice!
Time to self-evaluate. Are your mind and body open? What can you do to cultivate new flexibility and growth? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Katie Chamberlain Kritikos is a yoga entrepreneur, jewelry designer, and writer living in Chicago’s West Loop. A former attorney with experience in solo practice and tax litigation, she writes about starting small businesses, health and wellness, and relationships. Connect with Katie on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest @katydidyoga and Facebook @katydidyogallc.
Taylor Wells, “The No. 1 Myth About Yoga (And How Learning The Truth Can Change Your Life),” HuffPost Healthy Living (May 5, 2014), available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/15/benefits-yoga-myth_n_5326137.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living (last visited September 23, 2014).