4 IDEAS TO INTEGRATE MINDFULNESS

You might have read already about it, here on my site or somewhere else, however it’s such an important topic, that I will continue writing about it! Just some main values and ideas today on how to implement the mindfulness approach easily, no matter if into your yoga practice or your daily life as such.

A QUICK RECAP

Mindfulness is being in the present moment without judging; being fully aware of what we are thinking and doing, by keeping our focus on just that. 

WHAT VALUE WOULD YOU PLACE ON…

  • A shift from reacting to acting
  • Reduced distractions
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased awareness
  • Increased attention and focus
  • Increased clarity in thinking and perception
  • Lowered anxiety
  • Experience of being calm and internally still

4 IDEAS TO INTEGRATE MINDFULNESS INTO YOUR DAILY ROUTINES

  1. BE PROUD! Just repeat this phrase mentally again and again and again during the day, as often as possible. What will happen is a shift in your mindset – don’t think about what you are proud of, just be it, feel it! There’s always something to be proud of, don’t care about the details. Not just your mind but also your body will react on it: your posture will improve, your spine will lengthen, your chest lifts, your shoulders will slightly go down and back. You will radiate a positive and confident attitude. Wow!
  2. MOVE YOUR BODY! Of course you do that already when adding the mindfulness approach to your yoga practice. Think of it the rest of the day too! Many of us are sitting all day long, starring at a screen or any other devices. Sitting is said to be the new smoking – move as often as you can. Standing doesn’t do the work, your body needs movement. No need for a workout, just tiny little stretches work perfectly. Sitting or standing – do shoulder stretches, twists, side bends, balance, move the spine and many more. Easy little things that can be integrated without any effort.
  3. BREATHE! One of the most powerful tools with the purpose to either control our prana (life force, life energy) or to heal on a mental and/or physical level. We have loads of great techniques in yoga (so called pranayama) that we can use, however very basic techniques will already do the job, such as equal breathing (count your breath, inhale/exhale for 4) or lengthen your exhales (inhale for 4/exhale for 6) to squeeze your inner organs and get the toxins out. While we are used to breathe in a certain way during the yoga practice (e.g. Ujjayi breath), you can use the described techniques during the day and nobody will even recognize what you’re doing! It will immediately calm you down; do it in a train, car, plane, while waiting in a queue, during meetings, you name it.
  4. BE STILL! Meditation is a great tool to get ourselves into stillness, which is really needed in today’s stressful set up. Many of us struggle with meditation and I suggest to replace the term. Call it whatever works for you, it is just about going into stillness for a moment, you decide if 5 minutes, 30 or anything in-between. Bring your awareness internal, focus on your breath, allow any thoughts to pop up and pass by without giving them any further attention.

Go for it, it will change everything – to the better!

Twist

Let’s twist babes out there!

Gently move with your breath – lengthen with your inhale, twist with your exhale. Twists help to rejuvenate your spine by restoring your spine’s natural range of motion. They will cleanse your organs, and stimulate circulation. Not to mention the cleansing and refreshing effect on the torso organs and associated glands!

Get your blood flowing and boost your energy!

SAT NAM 

Sat nam – truth is your identity.

Let yourself be touched by your own truth. What is your truth? Who are you? Dig into the deepest level and discover yourself. 

Sometimes we meet people that are able to see our truth. Great souls won’t hesitate to tell us what they see and maybe even more, how it makes them feel. They will confront you with your truth, which can feel slightly odd, it might make you feel kind of naked, but it’s the purest form of love. Acknowledging the other person as what he or she is. 

Sat nam. The phrase sat nam is used particularly in Kundalini Yoga as a greeting to acknowledge the truth in each one of us. Does it seem superficial when using it as a greeting? I’m not a Kundalini practitioner, but feel touched by the beauty in its approach!

While on your mat, no matter what style you’re practicing or during your meditation, use it as your personal mantra to express or tune into your infinite identity.

Sat nam – truth is my identity.

Feel

How do you feel? I’m not after good or bad, but the details. No judgment. Take a moment and close your eyes, bring your attention inside and just do one thing: feel. Start with the easy things, like the temperature. Find different temperature zones in your body. Notice any tension, maybe even pain. You can use your breathe to guide you through your body and continue observing. Can you feel your breath? Your blood? Your veins and arteries? Your inner organs, muscles? Smile. Yes, just do it, smile. Feel the difference. What changed in your body following your lips going up? Now ask yourself: how do I feel? 

Instead of asking yourself if something is right or wrong, good or bad, ask yourself, how does it make me feel? And go from there. This is more important than anything else.

The same approach works in you yoga practice. You need to feel what you do, feel your body, your muscles, fascia, organs and and and. Every movement, every posture has to be felt and yeah, it should feel good! I know, sometimes it’s a bit challenging at the beginning, but again, you’ll find the moment of steadiness and ease, the moment you feel arrived in an asana. Listen to your body. Stop pushing, start feeling. Not saying this is easy, I even think it’s the most difficult part! If you are flexible, you might easily jump into a pretzel, but without that connection to your body, it’s no asana, but just a pretzel. Works for your Instagram account, but meaningless for your practice and your progress.

Start by sharpening your awareness to your feelings and what you feel. All the details! You will learn about your body in a total different way! Do some sun salutations blindfolded. This will support your focus. This can then be replaced with drishti, the focused gaze. It takes practice, as everything, but it will take your practice on a new level!

Just be prepared, that eventually you will never ever be able to answer the question ‚how do you feel‘ with just one word…. 

It’s that time again

TUNEin:CALM – WORKSHOP 10th NOVEMBER

Join us if you are in Zürich! Saturday afternoon, time to take 2 hours just for yourself; to feel your body, to flow and stretch, to get quite and eventually immerse into your inner world when deeply connected to your breath. You are your own medicine, get access to it.

It’s time to get quiet. It’s time to listen and slow down, soften and look within instead of around. Let’s tune in. Let’s do it together:

  • Flow – greet the sun – wake your body up softly: By synchronizing breath with movement, you will bring body and mind into alignment, getting into a flow, connecting sequences, calm and steady. You will gently wake your body up, saying hello to your muscles.
  • Yin Yoga – unstick the fascia – release tension: You will then ease into a yin sequence, holding postures for some minutes to reach the connective tissues and the fascia. On the way you might face some tension and this will be the moment to let go and release.
  • Breathwork – connect deeply – use your breath as your medicine: Finally, you are invited to a journey, using the power of your own breath, as a way of treating your body, mind, and spirit to its most rich and healing superfood. Music will support to find your rhythm while you allow yourself to just receive.

Are you in? Let me know and secure your spot here.

To bring: Comfy (yoga-) clothes, something to keep you warm during the breathing sequence, water

Energy exchange: CHF 40.-

10th November, 16:00 – 18:00, Stadtyoga, Zürich 

 

Props

Are you using props?

Different yoga styles, different approaches. It’s nothing about right or wrong, each approach is right. Coming from an Ashtanga background, I’m not much into props, as we say, if you can’t reach a posture, you’re not ready yet. Simple like that and I fully agree. However, if being really picky, a mat could also be counted as a prop, but I think this is a bit of a stretch, isn’t it. I definitely need a proper mat to avoid slipping, which can really be an issue. However, I sometimes use a block for a supported bridge pose to carefully open my body before going into full posture, urdhva dhanurasana. I’m not a backbender, my body prefers to fold forward, so this is a soft opening as an entry point. Even if I’m an Ashtanga devotee, I also believe, that it’s not about blindly following the rules, but the most important thing is to listen to my body. Accepting where I am that day, open, flexible and strong or rather stiff and exhausted with complaining muscles and joints. That’s life and I learned to accept and work with it. Also if this means using props or skipping a vinyasa here and there…. Finally, it’s my practice and there’s nobody to judge me, apart from my ego 😉

The yoga wheel is also a nice tool to play with. Not part of my practice, but part of playing, same here for supporting my body going backwards.

When it’s about my students, I’m not that strict, I allow them to use blocks and even a strap if it comes to hasta padangusthasana or binding in supta kurmasana, as I believe it leverages the learning curve in some postures significantly. Blocks can be very useful particularly for beginners, when eventually even sitting in easy pose with a long and straight spine is already a huge challenge. Just sitting on a block can be a game changer.

When it comes to yin yoga, the world is a different one. While we can do this style without props, I really prefer using them and everything can be used as a prop. We stay for 3 to 10 minutes in a posture and should make it as comfortable as possible. In this case, comfort is queen! After some minutes, a posture usually starts to get challenging anyhow, and we should be able to fully focus on our breath, releasing and letting go.

How about you? Props yes or no?

Yes!

I’ve got news! The journey goes on and on…. I’m so grateful to be certified to teach the MINDFRESH approach in Switzerland!

As I’m working myself all day long in the office, sitting in front of a computer, in a stressful surrounding, driven by deadlines, I know very well what effects this has on our health. And I’m talking about body and mind. Bad posture, neck and back pain, multitasking, shallow breathing… to name just a few. Having a fitness program is great, eating healthy awesome, but not enough. We need to work on body and mind to better destress and recharge. The good news is, that very simple tools can do that job.

Read more here, and if you think this could be a good idea for your office, let me know!

 

Photocredit Nadja Kappeler