Yesterday, I attended an exceptional yoga class taught by Reg at Korsi Hot Yoga in Roswell, GA! My sister introduced me to this studio, and I recently purchased a membership. Since moving home, I dropped into a few classes and have worked up to practicing 3-5 days a week. Some days, everything just clicks - that was my practice in Reg’s class.
As is customary, the instructor asked us all to set an intention. I cycled through a few words and concepts before I landed on “tranquility”. It fit for my mood after a full day of work, and acted as a secondary reminder that I can practice with a great deal of effort while simultaneously maintaining a tranquil state of mind.
When I pushed too hard, my goal was to pay attention to that and throttle back my effort.
When I slacked, my goal was to pay attention to that and increase my effort.
The word yoga comes from the root yug meaning “to hitch up”. That has led to further translations such as “yoke, join, or concentrate”. When instructors say that yoga is a practice, it is a reminder to focus the mind and body on the process, not the outcome.
One of my most difficult habits to break is to go hard at all times. Speed and power must always be at maximum effort, otherwise I feel I am not living up to my expectations. Yoga helps me chip away at the foundation of this habit by encouraging me to pay attention to my internal RPM gauge.
I kept tranquility at the forefront of my mind. Where I could, I closed my eyes in postures and through transitions to eliminate external distractors. By breathing though my nose deeply into my low belly I could engage my parasympathetic nervous system, even while I pushed the limits of my body in twists and forward bends.
The breath is a phenomenal guide to the state of your exertions. When I realized I could no longer breathe into my belly with control, I eased off the pace. Focused on breathing deeper than I did before, and, as my heart rate settled, I was able to ramp up my effort once more.
With my intention as my focus I “hitched up” my mind and body for an hour. I shut out all distractions outside the studio, and opened myself up to an awareness of internal distractions. This was meditation through movement, and it felt fantastic.
When Reg put the class into Savasana, corpse pose, where all you do is pretend to be a corpse (albeit one that breathes), I slipped into a delightful state where my body and brain luxuriated in a cascade of feel-good chemicals (endorphins, serotonin, dopamine). A cold shower later, and I felt like a new man!
I was most happy that I stuck with my intention for the entire hour. I do not always accomplish that objective, but on the days I do, I reinforce my belief that the mind can be trained to be more resilient and more agile.