Finding grace on the Yoga mat.

Grace is not always something we come to naturally. Our own "grace" refers to our physical ability to move through life without accident or trip-ups as well as how well we move emotional or mentally through life.  In Yoga we find space to examine our mental baggage. Do we get caught up in stressful situations? Are we prone to anxiety? Do we worry excessively?  A Yoga practice increases our focus, our concentration, improves overall relaxation,  all while practicing physical balance.  It allows us to become more in touch with our physical parts(legs, arms, torso) as well as increases our awareness of mental fluctuations. Whether we are able to maintain presence in the moment or whether we are already worrying about what is next to come. Yoga provides an outlet for this physical and mental training to take place simultaneously. It allows us to explore our journey into grace. 

You can see the following excerpt from Daniel's journal on his journey with finding grace on and off the mat. 

01/12 Sunrise w/ Marcy

Marcy combined a bunch of yoga styles this morning. We began with mindful breathing, did some core exercises, performed a “flow” style with a bunch of sun salutation variations, and concluded with some restorative stretches.

It was neat to see how an instructor could creatively combine a variety of different techniques to create a fun and interesting class. I'm excited to try that in the future. I also have a random observation I would like to share. Before I drive to yoga class, I jump rope for a little while while the car warms up (yay efficiency!).

I started with 100 jumps on the first day of this challenge and have added 10 more every weekday since then. I repeat this exercise one more time when I get home (I just leave my jump rope in my car to make it really convenient). I've started to notice that I get tripped up a lot more times before class than afterward. I wonder if that could be because yoga increases my focus and alertness, or if it's just that I'm more awake the second time around.

01/13 Sunrise w/ Victoria

I ran into a hiccup on down-dog. My palms get sweaty, which causes me to lose my grip. I've run into similar problems weight-lifting. On exercises that require you to hold a heavy load in your hands – dead-lifts, for example – my grip gives out before the muscles I'm training.

This issue used to frustrate me, but I have learned to let it go. Instead of seeing problems as “bad” things, it is better to look at them like fun puzzles to solve. Thus, I've been experimenting with a few ways to address the down-dog situation. Here are a few potential solutions:

  • Dry my palms off with a towel first

  • Place my palms on a towel or blanket and leave my fingers on the yoga mat

  • Place my fingers on towel or blanket and leave my palms on the yoga mat

It's worth noting that I only need to do this if the pose will be held for a substantial amount of time. Flow yoga is fast enough to make this irrelevant. That said, all three solutions have been somewhat helpful. I haven't figured out which one works best yet, but I will let you know when I do.

01/14 Sunrise w/ Shelly

I used to really struggle with balance poses. Let's just say “graceful” and “coordinated” are not words I would have used to describe myself in the past (and even now, they might be a bit of a stretch).

Standing on one foot still isn't a walk at the park, but it's a lot easier than it used to be. It helps to fix your gaze on a fixed object that will not move (read: NOT the wobbly person standing in front of you!).

Shelly reminded me of how much I depend on that trick today. She had us go from one balance pose to another, while moving our upper body in the process. This removed the option of looking at a fixed object, because we had to transition from looking forward to backward over and over again.

My mind started to revolt for a second. It can be resistant to change, as the human tendency is to prefer things to stay the way they are. However, it is important to increase the intensity of exercise over time. How else would your body become stronger? After I reminded myself of that fact, I appreciated the new challenge. Maybe I will be able to call myself “graceful” with a straight face if I practice enough.  - Daniel Wallen