Today is the beginning of our Expert Series and this expert is near and dear to my heart. We met in our real lives at work. We clicked immediately because we both share the philosophy that we’re working to live, not living to work. She’s a total boss at her job and she’s got a passion for life that you don’t see every day. She also rules at Snapchat. She’s been doing yoga for years but about 18 months ago began to practice daily and decided to get certified as a yoga instructor. I was lucky enough to get to take a class that she taught at our national sales conference and I can confirm that she knows her stuff. If you’re ever in the Milwaukee area, she teaches at: Get Hot Yoga and Healium. Without futher ado – Erin Brady everybody!
Yoga has started to become all the rage. Ironical for a philosophy that has been around for over 5,000 years (give or take depending on who you ask and what facet of yoga you are referencing).
We are seeing it everywhere, especially on social media, where beachy blondes are striking all sorts of ‘yoga’ poses in their most scantily clad duds. The most bendy and flexy of men and women posting videos of their one arm, flying pigeon, on the fingertips stunts with tattoos a blaze. Doesn’t it make you want to go out and buy some yoga pants?
The truth of the matter is, behind all of the flash and dazzle, what all of these die-hards are expressing really are some of the most fundamental concepts of yoga.
When you live your practice, get on your mat every day, allow yourself a space to get out of your mind and into your body, you can channel the internal fire and fortitude of the Gods.
The Yoga-Sutras, the philosophical foundation on which yoga was built, states that the objective of yoga is for the yogi to recognize that pure consciousness is distinct from mere matter; the ability to understand non-attachment to the worldly.
Believe it or not, there are actually 8 limbs to the total practice of yoga. The physical (Asana) piece, the connection or union of the breath to the bodily movement as we know it today being just one, although this is what we often hear being described as ‘yoga’.
The beauty of yoga, and often the scariest part, is that it forces you to become in touch with YOU.
As human beings we tend to manifest our emotional pain as physical pain in the body. Someone hurts us, we suffer a loss, miss an opportunity, send a child off to college, have a break up or maybe a break down (which in yoga, we like to call a breakthrough) we typically don’t allow ourselves time to deal with this pain or even accept it and heal. Our fast paced lives don’t let us be ok with taking a mental health day, staying in our sweat pants and fuzzy socks curled up with a cup of tea binge watching Sex in the City episodes.
So what do we do with all that emotional luggage? We store it in our bodies. Shoulders, backs, and hips (also known as the emotional junk drawers) tend to carry a lot of this weight. We get bogged down, eventually we end up walking around hunching our shoulders over creating a protective shield around our hearts so that they can’t be exposed to the raw elements of life.
While there are many definitions of the philosophy of yoga and its history. The fundamental practice of yoga is simple. It is just that. Practice.
Arriving on your mat regularly. Allowing yourself to check in and connect with the body. Pairing a slow steady breath rhythm with a flow of movement, which may include inviting yourself to the edge of your comfort zone. It is here, when we escape our day or week or month, if just for 30 or 60 minutes and focus on our body and our breath that we begin to feel… you have to feel in order to heal.
Practicing yoga brings an abundance of health benefits including sleeping better, building immunity, more energy from the increase of the flow of prana (vital energy, life force) to increased flexibility, better posture, increased blood flow and regulation to the lymphatic and adrenal systems. These are just a few of the many not to mention an overall sense of happiness. When you allow yourself space to focus on something as beautiful and simple as your breath, you give your brain a rest from the constant To-Do’s and lists and responsibility of your day for a short time, you will literally leave feeling (as we like to call it) ‘all blissed out’.
Don’t we all just need more of that today?
Over time we enable our joints and ligaments to open more freely, even releasing some of that emotional baggage that weighs us down, allowing the clutter to clear from our hearts and minds. This is the high we chase.
We arrive, and we arrive daily, because this is where the magic happens.