This morning I was poking around Facebook, as I often do, and came across a wonderful meme that was titled "Practice the Pause."
"Pause before judging.
Pause before assuming.
Pause before accusing.
Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you will avoid doing and saying things that you will later regret." ~Lori Deschene
The practice of yoga helps us find that pause. Just being present allows us to create space in ourselves to respond, rather than react. "React" involves impulse, no thinking or forethought, whereas "respond" implies thoughtfulness, acting with purpose and intention. When we practice yoga, using our breath to help us connect our mind to our body, we learn how to respond, rather than react.
The mind is constantly going from one thought to the next, whether we realize it or not. When practicing asana (the physical practice of yoga) we are giving the mind something to focus on: our breath, our alignment, sensation in the body. Your mind tends not to wander when you are holding Warrior 2 for awhile. Your mind is much more conscious of how much your legs (and hopefully your core and upper back) are working (sometimes screaming) which keeps you in the present. While feeling those "sensations" we have a few options:
1. You can move away from the sensations and come out of the pose.
2. You can brace against the sensations while screaming in your head wondering how much longer you need to stay in the pose.
3. You can breathe deeply and allow space for the sensations and thoughts to be there; simply notice.
#1 could be a reaction or a response. If at the first sign of "sensation" you come out of the pose, that is a reaction. However, if after a few breaths you decide that this pose is no longer serving your body and it would be better to come out of it, that is a response. The pause that happens when you take those few breaths gives you a chance to really assess what is happening: I feel like I am dying; am I really dying or is that just the story that I'm going with right now? Creating that space, or that pause, allows you time to check in to the true nature of what is happening in your body and mind. Usually we are stronger than we think but we lack faith in ourselves. Or we are overzealous, doing things our bodies really don't want us to do (this usually leads to injury). When we practice yoga using #3, we can really tune into what is happening now. Can I be in this moment and still be okay? Do I need to rest? Do I need to stay? Am I breathing? Creating a pause allows us to gather more information to make an informed decision about how to proceed.
We practice this in class so that we can use this skill in our daily lives. What if you could pause while you are interacting with your children, spouse or parents? What if you could pause when dealing with challenging occurrences in your life? Finding a way to respond, rather than react, can prevent escalation which can lead to regret.
Janine L. Agoglia has been teaching Vinyasa yoga since 1998. Her yoga journey started in 1995 with Iyengar Yoga and she discovered Vinyasa yoga in 1997. The combination of breath with proper body alignment is what fuels Janine's practice and the classes that she teaches. She believes that yoga should be safe as well as challenging, creative and fun. She always emphasizes proper alignment within the flow, as well as focus, breath and humor to help students find the balance between strength and ease. Deepening one’s physical awareness helps one strengthen his/her spiritual awareness and mind-body connection. Janine loves being able to help people deepen their own practices, finding yoga in everyday life, on and off the mat. Her DVD, “Vinyasa Yoga for Regular People” is available for purchase at the front desk at Lumina Mind Body Studios in Wayland, MA.
In addition to being the Co-Director of Yoga and teaching yoga classes at Lumina Mind Body Studios Janine is also a Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist who practices at Integrative Therapeutics in Natick, MA.