Many people come to Yoga classes strictly for the physical benefits, and that is great because there are countless physical benefits that Yoga provides. Others come for the relaxation and stress relief that Yoga brings to their busy lives. No matter the reason for engaging in a practice, every practitioner will begin to find that they feel more “centered” as a result of bringing Yoga into their lives.
Centeredness is basically feeling that the different sides of you are in greater balance. There are many sides to everyone and that is what makes each of us and the world as a whole so amazing and beautiful. But sometimes we experience frustration with ourselves if we feel that we are leaning too far to one side of our personality.
For instance, if you are an outgoing, go-getter type of person, you may begin to feel that you have a hard time relaxing and letting things go at times when that might be the best thing. If you are more reserved and easy-going, you may feel that there are times that you wish you would have spoken up or gone for something you wanted instead of letting it quietly pass you by.
Quieting your mind can be a big step in creating more balance in your personality and your life. In Yoga, we even believe that working on balancing poses in the body can establish more balance in all aspects of the person. There is an art to giving enough effort to hold the body up while relaxing enough to stay still in the pose.
At the beginning and end of each practice, just sit quietly in a comfortable position. Sometimes you may want to sit in easy, cross-legged pose and sometimes you may want to take a child’s pose or just lie down on your back. When you find stillness in the body, begin to focus on your breath. You want your breath to flow slowly and evenly, starting in the belly and traveling through the lungs, the chest and the throat as you inhale and then fall down in the opposite succession on the exhale. Spend some time noticing how you feel physically and what is at the forefront of your mind.
It is nice to consider the difference in how you feel before and after your practice to see the centering and balancing effects of the poses. Before you leave your mat, tell yourself that you can take this feeling with you into your day and your life.