Are You Hijacking Your Yoga Practice?

Discipline is freedom from the tyranny of impulse.
— Cullen Hightower

I teach yoga in New York City. The other day during class, I told my students, “Bend your knees, let your head drop, and sloooowly breathe yourself up, rolling up the spine allowing the head, arm and shoulders to stay heavy…etc.” Sounds pretty simple, right?


Well, what I witnessed was something completely different. Most of the students snapped up like they were on a timer. And then it hit me; in Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, he argues that our culture is riddled with ADHD, and that part of it is brought about by our excessive multitasking. We’re slowly killing ourselves trying to do too much, creating all sorts of potentially deadly problems. We’re stressed out, overworked, have no connection to anything meaningful, and battle all sorts of addictions. And for what…? Living up to someone else’s ideas about who we should be? 

My students were anticipating, thinking, “What’s next?” and probably weren’t experiencing anything real because they were stewing over yesterday’s breakfast, or how their boss yelled at them and what they would have replied, “If only….”

Your time on your mat is an opportunity. An opportunity to slow down and live in the moment. Ideally, our practice becomes a moving meditation. But how do we discover and experience it?

Your breath! Every inhale has a story, and so does every exhale. Each inhale has a beginning, a middle and end; each exhale has the same. Because of our need to control and predict, what often happens is we try to hijack this story and write it ourselves instead of letting it be told through our breathing and the movement.

We can’t dictate our experience in the present moment. We can only allow it to arise and be grateful for it, whatever it is, because technically that’s all there is. Control is one of the biggest illusions your life.

So the next time you practice, let the story within the breath flow through your body and go along for the ride. Give yourself permission to be present to the experience and enjoy the story as it unknowingly unfolds.

Here’s a simple two-three minute exercise you can do each night as you lie in bed to help you experience this connection:

Resting on your back comfortably, place your hand on your navel and begin to breath down into that space. Inhaling deeply (no strain or stress) through the nose, fill the belly then exhale slowly through the nose. Do this for at least two minutes and don’t get frustrated if you discover yourself breathing into your chest. Over time the breath will drop into the belly via persistence and mindfulness.

If you haven’t yet, get into a yoga studio and start to practice. You can also learn tai chi or any physical practice that unites breath and movement.

ENJOY, and let me know how I can help.