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YOGA FOR THE SOUL AND THE EIGHT LIMBS OF YOGA
Some people do yoga for social purposes, others for prolific reasons, but there is also a select group out there that do yoga for its magical stress-relieving abilities. When someone is affected by chronic pain or anxiety, it can become surprisingly hard to do much of anything. But stretching and practicing yoga can help a great deal and that is why I try to do it every day.
Getting out of bed can be really difficult some days, stretching after getting up can sometimes be even more difficult and this can be surprising. Imagine being able to touch the floor while standing, and yet most days after waking up, I can't even touch my toes. I think this is because while we are sleeping, our bodies and muscles slowly turn to stone. We all think we are relaxed while we sleep, but are we actually incredibly tense? The complete opposite? That has to be it. And maybe that is why I always feel the need to take a great big breath after waking it's because my stone-self doesn't during the night
Stretching while still in bed can be beautiful – for me, all of the blood rushes around, wakes my body up, and I can't really hear much of anything over the AAAHHH noises from my mouth. And even though I can't touch my toes in the morning, I still like to get up, reach for my zenith, and then try. Because even though we may turn into rocks and stones in our sleep, it doesn't mean we aren't capable of turning back into our liquid-state selves.
I enjoy starting my yoga practise with something that will get my heart going and my blood pumping: by moving in a fluid motion up-down squat-stand to the pace of a slow and even breathe. Whether we are wind, water, or fire, just be sure to stretch all of the rocks and hard gravel out. Sometimes I even just swing back and forth, letting my arms hit myself and my back, releasing any pressure points that are filled with sand.
When I have to give myself a push or a jolt to stretch and work out, I tell myself something very simple: "You will feel like utter crap if you don't." And of course, that doesn't mean mentally about my practice like calling myself mean names, but physically and literally because yoga helps ease the tensions of physical pain mental stress. Sure it can be taken a mean way, sure you can feel bad, but never beat yourself up because your body will do that for you for not stretching it.
Yoga is a word that has entire philosophies behind it; yoga has been around long before the original Buddha, Siddhartha, before Jesus, before Socrates taught Plato, and definitely before it became a trending fad. Realistically, you can practise yoga anywhere and any way you prefer to, be it sitting on a mat or standing in the shower. Because yoga is a constant practice of balanced breathing techniques, mindfulness, and relaxation. The movements that are first thought of when it comes it yoga is really a small part of it called Asanas, which is just one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga include Dhyana - Meditation, Samadhi - Pure Contemplation, Yama - Restraints, Dharana - Concentration, Pratyahara - Withdrawl of Senses, Pranayama - Breath Control, and then, of course, Asana - Postures. With these eight things, we can find yoga in almost every everyday thing. For instance, while I am writing this now, nearly the rest of my senses are numb, my breath is relaxed, I'm thinking but also thinking organically, sitting comfortably, this is the yoga of writing.
Meditation can mean many different things from person to person, but to me, meditation is an organic spin of our bodily motions and movements, and that includes thoughts. Meditation can be seen more easily in an example like running or bike riding, where does the mind go? Does it continue to worry about the stresses of every day? No, because then it wouldn't be enjoyable. Hobbies, for instance, getting yourself deep into a ball of clay and spinning it into a beautiful vase without continuously evaluating its shape and design, happens with organic meditation. And that really is exactly what all great artists do, they become one with what they are doing in the most beautiful, zenful, and yogi way.
When I think of how often I practice yoga, it truly is every day. Whether I get on my mat or not. Because the practice of yoga is a mindset that you work with through all life events, personal, work-related, we are all working through all eight limbs. When I am into something, and I mean really into something, the rest of the world does not exist. I become so consumed and concentrated that everything just comes out naturally and organically. Just as we often don't think about our breath.
Sometimes I give myself a day off the mat and "do yoga" in the shower. I will stand in there for an extra twenty minutes just breathing and losing myself. That is a perfect time for breathing exercises or to just take a step back and walk away from the world for a second. There are no phones in the shower, no stimuli except the running water and maybe music, but mostly, you and yourself. I especially enjoy this because it really helps with my migraines, body aches, and anxiety; hot water is a friend to all.
I want to leave you feeling both inspired to do stretches and inspired to not, it is important to not get hung up on doing it every morning or evening. While making habits is really nice, don't beat yourself up if you don't. Yoga is entirely about the mindset of being one with ourselves and the world around us. It is not just about becoming flexible and having a good butt, those are just the awesome bonuses. If you are interested, I highly suggest looking up videos about asana yoga, tai chi, and qi gong, as well as just exploring where you might already be meditating and don't notice.
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