For Yoga is learning how to learn, the key skill you need to transform your life. When you learn the ABC’s of Yoga, you move from stressed out to going with the flow. Learning to flow through movements, breathing, and meditation is the key to managing stress.
Start wherever you are, walking, standing, sitting, lying down, or moving along in a vehicle. Come awake by noticing the activity in your body. Make a conscious movement or take a conscious pose and hold it. Whether moving or still, notice.
Use the word “grace” to warm up for activity, breathing, and meditation.
G is for grounded, noticing how your position relies on gravity and thinking about your relationship to mother earth.
R is for relax, moving your attention to gently releasing the muscles of your face and relaxing your shoulders.
A is for aware, becoming aware of your eyes and color, ears and sound, nose and scent, tongue and taste, body and touch, and finally mind and thinking. Notice what is in front and behind you, to the left and right, above and below.
C is for centered, so sway from left to right, forward and back, coming to the perfect balanced position.
And E is for energized, reaching arms out (except if you’re driving) as widely as you can and stretching your hands open. The winds of grace are always blowing, we only need to raise the sails of practice to receive their energy.
After consciously moving, breathe. Notice how you breathe as you bring consciousness to the breath. Open the lower abdomen, filling your lungs from the hips to the ribs, then filling the center, expanding the ribcage. Finally, open the upper chest as you bring in the last ounce of air. Pause and then slowly exhale, letting the passage of the air to the outside bring awareness to the lungs coming together. At the end of the centering breath, pause. Then repeat three times. Finally, let your breath return naturally after the last pause.
After activity and breathing comes centering. To center yourself in your experience, bring your attention and focus within. Soften your gaze, look downward, or if safe for you, close the eyes. When thoughts of the past arise, notice them and let them fall away. When you think about the future, let it be. As you bring your attention into the present moment, notice any sensation in your body. Focus your attention there and then let it go. As thoughts come up, let them pass by, neither pushing nor pulling, but just noticing them as they arise and pass by.
Paying attention in this way, you begin to give your interior person the attention and respect you deserve. As you notice and exercise the self, you begin the process of self mastery. Once begun, your inner experience of Yoga can grow through the ABC’s to a more vital, balanced, and healthy practice.
Thus you realize the key skill for transformation.