Yax Yoga Concepts Retreat, Day 2 ~ Meditation and No Intimidation
Step into the Flow
My second day in paradise and words or pictures can’t begin to describe the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this place. Just like at home I woke up easily before the sun, but the difference is I slept better than I have in the past few weeks.
The morning started early at 7:00 am with guided meditation. I was given a tip yesterday to go sans coffee into the morning meditation group, so this morning that is what I did. I entered completely caffeine free, reserving my coffee for after class and vowed to “experiment” at least this one day to see if I could be more focused. Chris and John Yax lead us through the hows and why to meditating, easing us gradually into it. For many of us, this was our first time trying this. They taught us the value of breathing by inhaling and exhaling slow and controlled through the nose. With eyes closed, our breath was our focus. I have spent a lot of time in prayer, but this is completely different in that in meditation you focus on the moment of now and the present rather than cares, concerns, or worry. Learning to live and be present in the moment is something I have been making an effort towards over the past couple of years. The mediation practice this morning gave great insight and tools on how to be more effective at this. When you meditate you give your mind a rest and break. Chris and John spoke honestly about the fact that as humans our minds wander, and that is a natural occurrence. When you are in mediation and the mind begins to wander, direct your attention back onto the breath. Acknowledge your current surroundings. Be accepting of any outside noise that may creep into your mediation, don’t let it distract. Instead, make it a part of the experience. A howler monkey, the wind, the waves, or a happy baby were all sounds drifting in and out of our space today. After the mediation lesson, as a group we took two mediation cycles of three minutes each. Three minutes of uninterrupted focus on the now. Chris gave the suggestion that if you are new to mediation and want to try easing into it as well, try using an App on your phone, such as Omvana or Take A Break, to work as a stop watch to count down the duration for you. That way you can focus on freeing your mind, being in the now and keep your eyes closed instead of looking at the clock wondering how much more time do you have to sit here.
Today we had two sessions, each lasting over 90 minutes. The first was mid morning after breakfast and the second was late after noon before dinner. When the first session began, we huddled around Chris and John on the floor as they demonstrated correct and incorrect forms, postures, and hand placement in the poses. For many it was review, for me it was like learning how to set a solid foundation for the practice. How to place my hands, where to pull my belly in, how to place my shoulder blades. They gave a message that took any of the intimidation I may have been having towards yoga completely out of it. Just like in meditation we learn to be present and focus on the breath, you do the same on the mat. Chris and John took time to address the difference between a constraint and a capability when practicing. Meaning, we are all made differently with different make up, rotation capability, and different flexibility levels. They assured us that it is ok if we all do not move or practice yoga the same way. It is for each of us to know what our limitations are. I had a couple of “a-ha” moments in practice today. The first was when they said, “Deeper isn’t always better~it doesn’t mean that deepening the pose physically is always better. You can deepen the pose within your mind as well.” I referenced this many times today. If a pose became difficult or challenging, I went back to focusing on the moment. Focus on my hand placement, focus on my breathing, and be in tune with what my body was doing. Another “a-ha” moment was when Chris and John referenced being able to practice and be healthy at 100. I can relate to this because I say this about my running. The example given was that as humans we didn’t just wake up one day knowing how to play the guitar perfectly. In order to be a proficient guitar player, it takes practice. The same goes with yoga. Be present with where you are today in your skill. Keep that foundation strong and build upon it. After weeks, months, and years you will see the growth in your practice and the benefits in other aspects of your life. Being a newcomer to yoga, I especially appreciated this. Once I heard this message, I came to peace with knowing that in time it will come. Like running, it takes work and dedication to achieve the desired result. Being a newbie to yoga, this gives me a deeper appreciation for the runners I work with who are just starting out or working their way through a challenge. While I may be the “expert” I was once new at that too.
While yoga can have amazing effects on the body, I am finding it more satisfying for what it is doing for my mind. This trip has already taught me several valuable lessons relating to fitness that can be carried over into my day-to-day life.