Yoga Focus: When life hands you lemons – do yoga!

Yoga won't stop bad things from happening, but with regular practice you will be able to better process your thoughts and emotions, says Lisa Greenbaum.

How many times have you heard people say turn that frown upside down, embrace the positive, look for the silver lining? The reality is, its not that easy, and sometimes we need to be angry or sad to really process what is happening. It sometimes seems as though its become socially unacceptable to be anything but upbeat and happy, but the fact is that putting on a happy face when your inside isnt smiling is actually an angst-inducing act of suppression. So be mad. Be upset. Be angry. Be frustrated. Cry into your pillow. And then do yoga.

The literal translation of yoga from Sanskrit is union– union of mind and body, and through this union, connection. Connecting to our true self, our own light within. Yoga teaches us that we are not our mind, we are not our body and we are not our emotions. Through movement (asana) and breathing (pranayama) we are able to clear our minds of external thoughts and just be (meditation). The more we repeat this, daily if possible, the more centred we feel. This allows us to be in a more balanced state, the highs not quite so high and the lows not quite so low. When we are challenged, we are able to pause and process before we react.

Yoga wont stop bad things from happening, or amazing things either. However, with a regular yoga practice you are able to process your thoughts and emotions somatically rather than having them build into stress, chronic tension or full out explosions. Yoga shows you that your emotions are okay. It helps you to weed through the obstacles in your life so that you prioritise whats important and let go of what isnt. Yoga teaches you that you are always enough.

Try the following practices for the days you cant practice yoga, to help process and keep stress levels low, and advise clients and participants to make it part of their daily routine:

1. 3-part breath
Find a space to sit comfortably with a tall spine and bring hands to your belly. As you inhale, soften the muscles of your abdominals, allowing your diaphragm to push down and your belly to push into your hands. Continue your inhale, feeling an expansion through your side ribs and back, and your final sips of breath come into your chest. Exhale slowly and repeat this breath 10 times, or until you notice your mind has become calm and centred.

2. Downward Dog
An amazing stretch that looks like an inverted V. Keeping your hands inline to your shoulders and your feet inline to your hips, press your glutes up to the sky while keeping your knees soft. Eye gaze comes between the legs, while opening your chest and back, and at the same time experiencing a great stretch for the hamstrings.

This pose feels great, and at the same time lets you see the world from a differentperspective – upside down!

Lisa Greenbaum holds her E-RYT 500 in yoga and is the Program Development Manager for YogaFit Australia and Director of YogaFit Canada.

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