Yoga class can be fun and enlightening, but it also requires patience and a mindful approach to reap the fullest benefits. Letting go of old habits, trying new ideas, and sticking with the challenges that arise on the mat are part of the practice.
Creative imagery, neurologically-sound cueing, and safe alignment are key to how we effectively teach yoga in the Mind Body Dancer® teaching community. We are constantly seeking out the latest research in functional anatomy, applied psychology, and neuroscience for working with our students in group and private settings. Our goal is to guide and support each student through his/her yoga journey with sound teaching on the mat. Where our students go beyond the mat is up to them!
We thought it might be fun for me to share a weekly tip for our readers who have a yoga practice or are curious about beginning one. Once a month this tip will be designed for our performer-readers. Of course, the best way to learn yoga is in person through a class or workshop experience with our teachers, but I am looking forward to sharing some inspiration for your adventures on the mat!
Remember, a yoga practice is meant to be yours for a lifetime so just take it one day at a time. Enjoy!
Instead of approaching backbends with your head and trying to get the deepest backbend possible through ego, why not lead into your next backbend with your heart? Next time you transition into a back-bending asana in your yoga practice, exhale and imagine lifting with your heart space first. With this focused breath and intention, let your head and hips take a cue from the internal spine and body's muscular support system as they naturally coordinate what you need for your back curve. Sending your heart first will take strength and an element of risk the first time you try it. Go for it and notice how your experience of back-bending moves into a whole new dimension...and ease! Your whole body and mind (specifically your lower back!) will thank you for it.
In traditional performance training, there can be a gap between mind and body that follows us all the way from studio to stage. We might notice the butterflies in our stomachs before we step onstage. We may even feel the endorphin high when we step off stage. But wouldn’t it be remarkable to extend our performance experiences by savoring each moment we are doing what we love, from curtain up to curtain down? We may even find ourselves sailing through the “trouble” spots and finding new connectivity with our fellow performers.
When we take time to balance ourselves using the breath, the gap between mind and body narrows and we see each moment in the present tense. A welcome grounding and overall awareness can also accompany this. And who doesn’t want to feel that they can step onstage with confidence?
Here is a simple balancing breath practice to try out:
1. Find a quiet place backstage or in the green room.
2. Either sit or stand with a long spine and both feet or sitting bones firmly rooted into the ground.
3. Notice your breath and the length of your inhales and exhales. (Breath in and out through your nose).
4. Imagine your inhales traveling from your head to your feet along the spine. Imagine your exhales traveling from your feet to your head along the spine.
5. Once you get a sense of how you are breathing, take a few breath cycles to even out the inhale and exhale lengths.
6. You may count the length of the breath in and out, if that is helpful.
Add this practice to your pre-performance regimen and you will find yourself connected, mind and body, when you step into the spotlight!
Want to learn more? Visit our website for yoga class and workshop schedules with Mind Body Dancer teachers.
Photos by Sophie Kuller