At some point in our lives, we’ve all been tired. It is normal to be tired occasionally, as long as it isn’t an everyday occurrence. Those of us who feel tired repeatedly might think that it is our body that is tired. However, in today’s society very few of us do enough real physical labor to tire our body. Therefore, it is usually not our body that is tired, but our mind.
A tired mind pays less attention to the body, which results in the mind becoming even more tired. What we do about this? We can learn to change our attitude and realize that tiredness is usually of the mind, not the body. If you can think yourself into being tired, you can also think yourself into being energized, into being alive. If you think of yourself as tired, sad, or sick, you will be.
In order for you to lead a balanced life, you should have a positive attitude. That’s what yoga is all about-balance and harmony. In our postures, we learn to body control and surrender, to reach and retreat, to expand and contract. We learn to perform these opposites in a complementary manner. Some people come to yoga as “pushers,” wanting to control the progress in the movement of body; others come as “sensualists” who want to learn to surrender and relax.
Most importantly, you should not become mechanical when doing your postures because it will become boring and you will be cheating yourself. Try to maintain total awareness with each posture and each movement. It will keep each time new, different, even exciting. Be awake and aware! Each posture can be new and different each time because you are different and new each time. If you practice with a tired mind, with a bored attitude, then your postures will become stale and old.
You’ve noticed that some postures begin in a lying position, others in a sitting position, and some in a kneeling or standing position. This keeps your practice fresh and new. If you feel lazy when you first wake up and don’t really want to get out of bed, start your postures in a lying position, just where you are in bed. Simply stretch your legs and your feet. Gently arch your back and wriggle your shoulders. Soon, you’ll find that your are ready to get up and finish your postures. When you find yourself wide awake-ready to jump out of bed and walk over the window-stretch your arms up in the air and start your postures in a standing position. Other mornings, you’ll manage to get out of bed but want to sit right back down again. Simply sit for a moment and breathe; then, begin practicing your postures from your sitting position. The point is that your yoga practice will be different as your moods-never exactly the same each day.
- Standing Elbows-to-knees Bend.
Stand with your feet comfortably apart and your arms at your sides. Inhale as you lift your arms and interlace your fingers behind your head. Exhale as you bend down and bring your left elbow to your right knee. Inhale and raise yourself into a standing position. Exhale and lower your body, bringing your right elbow to your left knee. Inhale and raise your body up. Repeat three to four times for each side-alternating sides-very slowly.
- Standing Elbows-to-Floor.
Stand with your feet as far apart as possible, and your arms at your sides. Inhale and cross your arms in front of your while holding the insides of your elbows. Exhale as you very slowly lower your body down and place your elbows on the floor between your feet. Inhale to raise your body to a standing position. Exhale and release your arms to the sides. This posture is a really good stretch.
- Standing Relaxation.
Stand with your feet directly below your hips, and close your eyes. Bring your mind to your dan tien the area just below your navel. Relax your knees. Imagine that you are standing, floating on water. Simply experience the lightness. As you inhale, raise your shoulders and arms as though they are floating on water. Exhale and let them slowly sink down again. When your arms slowly float upward, straighten your knees. When you lower your arms and shoulders, bend your knees slightly. Allow your body to float freely for as long you wish, totally relaxed and free. When you are ready to come back, feel your feet sink through the floor and root themselves in the earth. This pose allows you to become grounded again.
This relaxation emphasizes and strengthens our connection to the natural world by reflecting on spring. Adjust yourself comfortably on the floor. Center, release, and relax every part of your being.
Through your practice of postures, you’ve revived your body. As you now relax, it smiles back to you in gratefulness. Breathe deeply, thoroughly, and thoughtfully, creating healing circulation throughout your being. You should feel good about yourself at this moment.
With your eyes closed, pictures a very large tree in front of you. Just look at its magnificence! Look at that firm trunk, standing straight, proud, and firm. It might stand that way for hundreds of years if it is spared the rip and tear of the chain saw. The tree’s longevity comes from two sources: Its deep roots reach down into the earth for nourishment, while its limbs stretch skyward to the sun’s energy; by knowing the value of the pause, the tree continually renews itself.
Picture the trunk of that tree as your torso; then place your face on top of that torso. (pause.)
Can you see yourself as that tree? In addition to seeing yourself as the tree, feel yourself as the tree. Feel the strength in your torso. (pause.)
Feel your legs as gigantic roots-firm and pushing into the ground. Your toes are tiny roots reaching outward, spreading further and further, deeper and deeper. (pause.)
Feel the strength of your being! Your quiet, subtle, unshakeable power. (pause.)
Lastly, feel your arms as massive limbs reaching up and out to the sky, the sun, the wind and rain, and gather it all to your being. (pause.)
Feel your fingertips as tiny buds vibrating with life, with the energy coming from your limbs, constantly germinating and energizing you. (pause.)
Let your breath assist you. Every time you inhale, feel new energy enter every part of you, from the earth and the sky. Each time you exhale, feel yourself expand, pushing outward, upward, and downward. Think of this motion as your spring-your time to bloom, to flower in all your magnificence! (pause.)
Keep inhaling energy, and keep exhaling into growth. (pause.)
Slowly distance yourself from the vision the tree, but do not lose the feeling. As you rest, still know the energy, the power and the peace that the tree knows and is.
Hold on to your springtime. It is not a singular moment, but every moment. Your blossoming is a continual awakening, ever present, if you open yourself to it.
We reflect how we feel, how we think, in our movements and the positioning of our bodies. By changing your body’s position, you can change your outlook on life, even by simply repositioning your head or your shoulders. When you move your shoulders back and straighten up, you feel lighter and less burdened. Your lungs will be grateful for the increase in oxygen. Standing erect is also beneficial to your mental state. If you’re walking and dragging along, stop and you’ll probably notice that you’re out of balance. Stand up straight-shoulders back and head up. You’ll notice an improvement in your walk. The position of our body affects and reflects our outlook on life.
Our body’s health depends on good circulation for energy. Our spinal cord is the axis of our body and must be kept supple and straight-not stiff. The spinal column houses our bone system, our muscular system, and our nervous system. A blockage in the spinal area can cause weakness and premature deterioration of the entire body. By holding ourselves erect, energy flows freely up and down our body, and we flow more freely into life. Life is a movement that simulates every part of our being-our muscles, our arteries, our veins. Yoga offers numerous postures that twist the spine, both sitting and standing, and keep our nervous system healthy. Our spine is like the trunk of a tree. If the tree trunk deteriorates, the limbs, our body, become useless.
Grasped Fingers Behind Back.
In a standing position, inhale and bring your left arm up. Bend your elbow and bring it down behind your left shoulder. Simultaneously, bend your right elbow and bring your arm up behind your back, and try to interlock the fingers of your hands. Exhale and bend forward to create more pull. You will feel the pull along the back of your upper left arm and in your right shoulder. Stretch as far as you can without discomfort; if you can’t quite grasp your fingers, bring them as close together as you can. Inhale and raise your body to an upright position, releasing your arms to your sides as you rise. Repeat for the other side of your body. Bring your right arm behind your right shoulder and your left arm your behind back. Move only as far as your body allows without discomfort.
Crossed Arm-Front and Lower.
Stand with your feet comfortably apart. Bending your right elbow, raise your right arm and hand in font of you. Rest you left elbow in the angle of your right elbow. Bring your palms together and interlace your fingers. Keeping your elbows in place and your fingers interlaced, Straighten your elbows and bring your arms down and forward, as far as you comfortably can, until your fingers automatically release. Give your arms a good shake to relax them. Repeat for your right side. This posture strengthens your wrists and arm muscles, and keeps your shoulders and wrists flexible.
Relaxation/Meditation: The journey within
How much do you really know about yourself? All too often, we don’t really take the time to explore who we are. If something is wrong with us, physically or mentally, we ask someone else to take care of it. Yet, those who take an active part in their own well-being are often in better health and have a better recovery rate than those who don’t.
This relaxation will show you how you can better get to know and respect your own “workings.”
Adjust yourself on the floor-centered, limp, and relaxed. Close your eyes and breathe effortlessly. Every time you exhale, try to feel yourself getting smaller and smaller. This journey takes place only in your mind, and your beautiful, regular-sized body will be waiting for you when you return from your brief trip. (Pause.)
Remember to let go every time that you exhale. Keep feeling yourself getting smaller and smaller until your size is about an inch high. (pause.)
You will travel through you bloodstream, through the wonderful arteries of your body. If you don’t want to swim the entire route, simply picture yourself relaxing on a tiny board. Before you begin, remember that on this journey you are a curious, friendly visitor, completely in awe and interested in your body’s inner workings. When you are ready, simply swallow yourself into your system. Lie back on your tiny surf board, relax, and picture yourself slowly flowing down the following the route.
Notice the intricate workings and the total dedication of the cells that keep you healthy-each one doing its own work-and look to really see what is happening.
Done one arm. (pause.)
Up and down each finger. (pause.)
Over your chest. (pause.)
Down your other arm. (pause.)
Up and down each finger. (pause.)
Back up to your chest. (Pause.)
Down to your stomach area. (pause.)
Around and around your stomach area.
Take a left turn down the length of your left leg and on the outer side of your left leg, heading for your toes.