My story is both simple and complicated at the same time. I do yoga to try and get out of the constant fight my life has been for as long as I can remember. Doing a silent meditation retreat and finding inner peace is my idea of happiness right now.
For some reason, I’ve been getting sick a lot lately with minor things like an odd ear infection I never normally get. My system is clearly out of balance and I need to do something about it. I’ve tried a lot of things in the past and eventually turned to yoga, meditation and float therapy as powerful tools for self care and healing. So I started this diary to document my progress and steps on the journey to wellness and balance. It will be helpful to see on the experiential level what benefits my approach can yield over time.
How the yoga session went down today: I spent quite a while just sitting in Sukhasana (easy pose) in the beginning. This simple cross-legged sitting asana is my favorite way to start off a practice and get centered. The north wind was howling ominously in the chimney reminding me of those long dark nights in my Penthouse-style apartment on the 32nd floor in Shanghai back in the 2000s. The incense burner with a mix of eucalyptus and lavender oil helped create a calm and relaxed ambiance in the room, just how I like it.
I do not normally put on music when I do yoga and prefer to practice in silence. It wasn’t always like that. I remember the early days when I couldn’t imagine doing yoga without the music. I needed an external sound, a rhythm to tune myself into the flow. Now I wear my noise blocking headphones and silently scan through the body as I sit on the floor on my Manduka yoga mat in oceanic green. Trying to hear my own music deep down and hearing nothing yet.
I usually create my own sequence of yoga poses or follow one of the routines from my teachers. I use presets I built in the Insight Timer app (iOs or Android) with repeating interval bells to help measure the time in each asana so I don’t have to keep a mental track of time in each pose. The more mind control you can let go off during the practice the better. My mind was jumping between recent conversations and situations, but I patiently returned attention back to the body and breath as I became aware of distractions. Can yoga fix a relationship? Can yoga fix me? Do I need to be fixed? I see you, a sudden surge of negative self talk. Again and again, I recognize it and simply focus back on the sensations in my body (warmth, throbbing, heaviness in the right hand). Just carrying on with me practice.
Reminder to self: Patanjali’s definition of the purpose of the yoga practice is Chitta Vritti Nirodha. It means that yoga is stilling the fluctuations of the mind. Literally translated as: Chitta — mind, consciousness; Vritti — waves, fluctuations; Nirodhah: to control, to quiet. During the practice of yoga, we experience the phenomenon of Chitta Vritti Nirodhah, and as a result, our busy mind falls into a state of tranquility and quietness so we can see the reality for what it is, not how we perceive it. The intention is not to compulsively attempt to control the mind, but to allow the mind to rest in its center without interfering with the natural flow of things. Easier said than done.
Today’s Yoga Sequence: 48 min.
Yoga — 40 min; Shavasana — 8 min.
- Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
- Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
- Rest — Shavasana — 5 minutes
- Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
- Rest — Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
- Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II)
- Rest — Shavasana — 5 minutes
- Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana). Also called Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
- Final Shavasana
Follow the journey on Instagram at @meditate_mate