Hi Friends!!! I hope you’re all having a great week! I decided to let me friend Sarah Sloane do a guest post for you! Sarah and I went to high school together and she is now in the Charm City Yoga teacher training program. Sarah has been an athlete all her life and she is also a licensed counselor. She is also a very dear friend to me. Please read on to find out more about her as well as her tips on living a mindful life.
Quoted from Wikipedia:
Mindfulness (Pali: sati, Sanskrit: smṛti; also translated as awareness) is a spiritual faculty (indriya) that is considered to be of great importance in the path to enlightenment according to the teaching of the Buddha.
Jon Kabat-Zinn has made a living on this idea. Sounds too simple to be true, but I assure you that you will wonder too.. His book actually came out in 1991. A while back – almost 20 years, but just surfaced in my eyes last year. It fascinated me because I tend to make things more complex than they should be. Awareness was something that I practiced all-day everyday to other people at my job – but was I practicing with myself or those around me? I am in the midst of an intense yoga training which as made me look inward – usually when it’s hardest to or you want to avoid it. Kabat-Zinn said this:
"…bringing mindfulness to any activity transforms it into a kind of meditation. Mindfulness dramatically amplifies the probability that any activity in which you are engaged will result in an expansion of you perspective and of your understanding of who you are."
I believe this statement can be applied not just to yoga, but also to other areas of your life. Here are 3 practical ways to practice mindfulness in your day-to-day life:
1) The Body-Scan. Tune into your breathing, any sensations or aches or pains in your body more. Notice them, acknowledge them, but don’t become attached to the feeling. Try to let it go or listen to your body if it’s telling you to rest.
2) Meditate. Find a quiet space and sit in a comfortable position for 15 minutes straight. Close your eyes and then listen and observe your breath. Try not to ruminate on any thoughts or to-do lists, just sit and listen to your breath. When your attention goes elsewhere, notice it and bring it back to your breath. Once you get down 15 minutes try to increase it.
3) Keep the judging to a minimum. Jon says again so eloquently that I thought I should quote him:
"this habit of categorizing and judging our experiences locks us into mechanical reactions that we are not even aware of and that often have no objective basis at all. These judgments tend to dominate our minds, making it difficult for us to ever find any peace within ourselves."
Amen, Jon. Anyone else agree with that? Remember too, this is a practice. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t sit still for 10 minutes, it starts with awareness.
Just be still…
***Here’s some more info on Sarah!***
How did you get into yoga and what made you want to become a yoga teacher?
Funny you ask me this, Camille, my first experience with hot yoga was actually with you, three-ish years ago. I was living in Fells, sick of going to the gym and running so I wanted to find something new and different. I think we ran into each other at REI or somewhere random in Smalltimore and you told me to come to your class. I texted you the next day and I remember your text back vividly: “Drink LOTSSSSS of water and don’t eat 4 hours before!!! See you soon!!” I thought, what was I getting into? I usually housed a banana with peanut butter and even a snickers before playing a lax game. I followed her instructions and showed up to the Fells 7pm class on a Friday.
I barely got through it and never sweat so much in my adult life (even compared to summer pre-seasons). But afterward, I felt amazing. Physically and mentally. I was instantly hooked. I kept coming back for more – as much as time and other life commitments would allow. I loved how music was incorporated into the classes and sometimes the readings or affirmations mentioned by the teachers. I almost always left feeling better than I did when I walked in the studio doors. Therefore, I wanted to spread the yoga love myself and only hope that others can find the same joy and fulfillment that I did.
How does yoga help you to express who you are and who you want to be?
Yoga to me is like a blank canvas that allows me to paint whatever colors or shapes I feel inspired to use. It is a life long learning process. Always finding new ways to teach the poses, tweak playlists, read about philosophical perspectives, experiment physically with various poses…the list goes on. In addition, I am able to use yoga in my ‘day job’ as a mental health counselor, whether it’s offering dirga breathing techniques to an anxious client or educating groups about mindfulness in daily living. I love that there is never a perfect or right way, it must be the way that works for you and the people you are trying to reach.
What important lessons have you learned about yourself through your yoga practice?
We were required to do an hour yoga class with 3 other classmates and ours had a theme. We focused on the heart or the 4th chakra. The affirmation for this chakras is “I love.” I interpreted this as meaning the love you have for yourself now and where you are in your practice of yoga or even your life currently. No matter what the circumstance your life is in, you have the ability to let all your expectations, hopes, wishes, wants and worries vanish away whenever you want. I feel like I am able to do this on the yoga mat (most times), but need to translate it in other areas of my life. That is the first lesson that comes to mind.
What’s your favorite pose? Why?
This one is hard. I love them all.
But I would have to say there is a tie between two.
Bakasana – Crane Posture… I feel like I still haven’t been able to do the full expression of the pose with my arms completely straight, but I like it because I feel strong, sturdy and it’s super fun to jump back into chaturanga. I love anything where I get a little thrill – so obviously headstand or Sirsasana would be my second favorite. Just got it down a couple months ago but I always love doing it just for fun. I.e. on the beach…
What inspires you?
Beautiful nature. I’m a sucker for sunsets, warm sunny days, beautiful views of the mountains and the sound of the ocean crashing. Long walks on the beach really are the cat’s pajamas.
MUSIC. Half the reason why I could care less if a long commute or traffic get in my way is that I always have music that I can zone out to… It soothes my anxious mind.
My tops picks lately: Angus and Julia Stone –Yellow Brick Road, Bon Iver – Come talk to me, Harlem Sharks – Sunlight, Arcade Fire – Sprawl II
Adventure. I’ll try anything – especially if it involves water or snow and a board.