“Be present.” Sounds cute, but what does it mean?
And how are you supposed to do that when there is so much stuff competing for your attention?
Dividing My Attention
I used to live inside my head. Multitasking was my middle name. A few years ago, I was a teller at a credit union, and I worked on personal projects in between transactions.
I’ve directed several plays in community theatre. I managed to block scenes (how the actors move), email notes to my cast, and promote our performances... all on the clock!
This wasn’t a good habit, and it eventually got me fired. My mind was obsessed with the future. I felt mentally exhausted. That happens when your mind and body live in two different places.
In my previous post, I confessed that I hated my first yoga class. Can you see why? Yoga is all about the present moment. Gross. I didn’t want anything to do with that. There was too much thinking to do!
Netflix and Yoga
Three or four years ago, I began to do yoga at home because it was difficult to find a class that fit my schedule. But for most of that time, I was not completely focused on my practice.
I’m a sucker for dark TV shows. Dexter, Breaking Bad, and Sons of Anarchy are three of my favorites. After work, I would start an episode and do yoga at the same time. “See? You can watch Netflix and get fit,” I proudly proclaimed to whoever would listen on Facebook.
Sounds nice... but in retrospect, it wasn’t an ideal situation.
My mind got excited by meth (not literally), serial killers, and gang violence. My body tried to do yoga with little input from my distracted mind.
I wasn’t mindful of my posture. I didn’t listen to physical sensations. I was going through the motions. And that’s okay. The important thing at the time was to get in the habit of practicing yoga at home.
If a teacher told me, “You always have to be 100% present with your practice for it to count as yoga,” then I never would have started. That sounds too intimidating. I believe in slow and steady changes. They stick way better.
Last year, I finally learned to embrace silence. No music. No TV. No distractions or interruptions of any kind. Just me and my yoga mat. My mind resisted (hey, it’s not easy to override years of programming). But the more I practiced, the less it bothered me.
Meditation is still tough. I like to take walks through the woods and say I “meditated.” In my book, anything that brings peace counts as “meditation” -- and nature is more soothing than sitting around. Besides, don’t you already spend enough time planted on your butt? I do!
Afraid to do yoga at home? Make it ridiculously easy. Choose a single yoga pose (the one you love most). Do that pose during commercial breaks.
Not a fan of television? Okay. Walk away from the computer once per hour. Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds. You’re done!
Remember: the goal is not to become enlightened, balance your chakras, or do the best Handstand ever. The goal is to get comfortable with doing yoga alone.
How did you get started with your home yoga practice? Did Netflix help you out, too? Share your stories with us in the comments below!