These days, my yoga and meditation practice is even more essential to have in my routine. It feels like never-ending winter here in in Copenhagen, Denmark, and I can definitely feel it mentally and physically. But self-care is always important, especially when you start to feel like you're falling out of alignment.
There are many reasons why we fall out of alignment. This can be due to living a life that doesn't align with our truth, like having a career that is unfulfilling and doesn't match with what we really want. Or, maybe it's our relationships in our life that aren't aligning with our truth. Maybe we are in a pattern or pursing friendships that don't nurture us, and rather suck all of the energy out of us.
It's also easy to fall out of alignment whenever you're experiencing stress or have a constant over-thinking mind. Personally, I know I'm out of alignment when my anxiety spikes. I get a restless mind accompanied by brain fog and plummeted motivation. My muscles feel tense and sore, and my sleep is anything but restful.
But my mat is where I align. During my yoga and meditation practice is where I connect my body and mind. It's where I see what is working or no longer working in my life. It brings me closer to my truth and motivates me to rid myself of things that no longer serve me.
My mat is my mirror and my guide.
I started my yoga journey in 2010 with Bikram yoga (aka the super hot one). I got into great physical shape, did a lot of sweating, and was always really proud of myself to make it through a strenuous class. After going almost regularly to classes, I went a little too deep and over-stretched a muscle in my foot... so I decided to lay off the Bikram. Even though Bikram made me feel pretty damn good, the downside of it is that the hot temperature makes you go deeper in poses than you naturally would.
Shortly after Bikram, I started dabbling into other yoga practices, from Astanga vinyasa to Kundalini. What resonated with me the most was Hatha yoga, so that became my go-to kind of practice. I later got my teaching certification in it in 2015, that's how much I love it!
Hatha, meaning Sun/Moon, consists of physical poses and mindful breathing techniques that create a sense of calm and mental clarity. It works to expand the flow of prana (energy) throughout the body. My personal yoga practice today is primarily a blend of Hatha and Yin. Yin yoga also works on calming and balancing the mind and body, reduces anxiety by supporting the parasympathetic nervous system, increases circulation, and improves flexibility and mobility.
For me, the fusion of both creates a great combination of physical and mental exercise, through asana (poses) and breath-work. Either at the beginning or end of my practice, I add in some meditation that usually lasts around 10 minutes. According to lifehacker.com, by using modern technology like fMRI scans, scientists have developed a more thorough understanding of what’s taking place inside our brains when we meditate. They found that during meditation, our brains stop processing information as actively as they normally would.
Other research has shown that meditating helps us focus better while decreasing anxiety. The way we respond to things that happen to us also changes the more we meditate. For example, when you experience pain, rather than becoming anxious and assuming there is something wrong with you, you can watch the pain rise and fall without becoming alarmed and thinking about all these crazy "what-if" scenarios. It can also help you deal with conflict better and help you gain more self-awareness. By meditating, you may find that you obtain a clearer vision of how to handle certain situations in life and thus connect more with your truth.
My mat is where my whole being aligns. It is by far my favorite self-care practice, and one of the most important things I do for myself.
I encourage you to step onto the mat and watch where your body takes you. Namaste!