Many of us have aspects of our lives that are challenging to explore and look at deeply. And yet, there is this notion that that which we ignore, turn away from and avoid, will persist.
Yoga offers time and space for introspection. In yoga, you are invited to look inward with curiosity and openness to what is.
Think of an aspect of your life you are currently avoiding. This could be a conflict with a loved one, something on your to-do list, or perhaps you are in the midst of a life transition and are unsure what comes next. Maybe it’s something different.
Carl Jung famously said,
“What you resist, persists.”
When you resist or avoid what is arising, do you experience it as something that lingers and continues to try and get your attention?
When life comes knocking at our door, and we continue to resist, many of us experience stuck-ness. This may show up as feeling trapped, a pit in your stomach, or somewhere in your body. Some of us may feel agitated, seeking to escape what is arising by moving quickly, becoming fidgety, and being on the go.
Pause. Reflect. When something is trying to get your attention – Do you listen mindfully? Do you initially resist? If you resist, how does that show up in your body? Where do you feel it? What are the qualities of the feeling?
One of my yoga teachers once told me:
"where the mind goes, prana flows."
In yoga, prana is referred to as our life force and vital energy. One way we can work directly with prana is through our breathing practices. In yoga, breathing practices are called pranayama.
One way to move away from the pattern of resisting that which we hope to shift, is to bring mindful attention. To do this, come to a comfortable seat or lie down. Recall to mind that aspect of your life you are avoiding, resisting, turning away from.
Now instead of getting caught up in the many thoughts that may arise, bring your attention to the body.
Notice what you feel. Is there a change in heart rate? Where is sensation showing up in your body (i.e. tingling in feet, tight chest, pit in the stomach, etc.). Where is sensation strongest? Where is sensation weakest? Allow the mind to watch what is present without judgment and without analyzing it. Simply let the mind observe your experience as you work with the flow of prana.
As you continue to watch and observe, deepen your breath. You can watch the rise and fall of breath in the abdomen, or you can send the breath into areas where you feel a strong sensation. Take your time. Spend as much time as you would like breathing into these areas of the body.
Before transitioning to the next part of your day, take a moment to pause. Check-in with the body, the breath, and the mind. Notice if any shifts have occurred. I invite you to come back to this practice throughout your week to explore the connection of mindful attention and your well-being, vitality, and life force (prana).
Twice a week I offer a 90-minute online yoga class called "Yoga for Mind Body Wellness". Would love to have you join me.
About the Author
Dana Saad is a Registered Yoga Teacher and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. In addition to conducting private individual counseling at Key Therapy Counseling, she also holds weekly yoga classes (see list of classes here). She completed her yoga training at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health and has pursued additional training in Trauma-Informed Yoga (through Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga) and Yoga Nidra (through the iRest Institute). Her Trauma-Informed Yoga classes incorporate a mindful approach to trauma processing, deep relaxation, and mind/body balancing intended to treat current symptoms related to an overactive nervous system.