“Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you.”
–Sheng-yen, Zen Wisdom
4 Ways To Relax In The Midst Of Effort
When I first started practicing yoga I approached it as a break from the stress and tension of my regular life. It is that and always will be. But as I got deeper into yoga, I realized that it is so much more. Through every aspect of the practice, you can learn something that can be integrated into your life. One of my favorite lessons from practicing asana is relaxing in the midst of effort. Here are a few ways you can incorporate this principle into your life.
Relax The Body Scan the body for any tension. Notice where you are clenching, tightening, or forcing your muscles. Relax the face, the tongue, the jaw, the neck, the shoulders. Relax any part of your body that you typically feel tension. Focus On The Breath Focus on your breath. Breathe though your nose gently with long, slow, deep, belly breaths. Feel your chest expand with each inhale. Exhale completely through your nose and allow the diaphragm to push out all that stale air making room for the next full, deep breath. Be Aware Of Your Thoughts & Feelings Notice your thoughts. Are you in the present moment or are you worrying about something from the past/future? Are you spaced out? Do you feel anxious, happy, sad, mad? Assess your emotions. Then bring your full attention to the present moment and what you are doing right now. Engage In Compassion & Acceptance Accept what is going on right now with your body, your breath, your mind, your feelings. Have compassion for yourself. Observe all these aspects of you and notice them. Say to yourself “oh, I feel this or I think that.” or “huh, I breath like this or I hold tension here in my body.” Relax, love and accept yourself as you are right now.
Relax in the midst of effort!