Slow down to look around. Slow down to look inside.
We live in a fast-paced world where often we are doing multiple things at once and sometimes never finishing what we have started before the next project comes to mind, and we are off and running full speed with it.
Put down the iPhone. Close the laptop. Turn off the TV. And listen. Hear your heartbeat. Feel each breath flow in and out of your body. Open your eyes, mind and heart to see the light shining deep inside.
Simon and Garfunkel may have put it in lyrics best when they sang “Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last.”
I mean, when is the last time you really experienced your morning? The first sip of coffee, the first stream of water from the showerhead, or the first beam of sunlight as the darkness begins to fade and a new day sets in? Whether we are distracted by something or just on auto-pilot doing what we do day-to-day without any thought, we deprive ourselves of really living—feeling, seeing, touching, hearing, and tasting life.
In yoga, when we come to our mats for asana practice, we can really tap in to how we feel. Even more, we start to discover what it really means to look inside. Inside to our deepest breath. Inside to our greatest potential. Inside to the light that shines within us. As we look deeper inside, we are able to let go of any external noise or distractions. Chaos is silenced, so we can focus inward on breath and body alignment; and so this becomes a moving meditation.
As a yoga teacher at the Scottsdale Recovery Center, I am working with men and women who have been dependent on a substance for so long—a powerful substance that has created a false sense of living in them. Maybe they were using to escape from fear or feeling lonely. Maybe to avoid pain. Maybe to find a high, which eventually became so euphoric they couldn’t seem to be a part from it. The drugs and alcohol are illusory, which have prevented each of them to really experience life in their most natural bodies—to feel, see, touch, hear and taste life as it is.
Every new day, they are being introduced to who they are—without the drugs or alcohol masking their truest selves. They are learning to let go of built-up emotions. Learning to quiet their minds that are telling them they need this or that to get by. When they roll out their mats to breathe and move, and connect the two together, they learn to relax and release addictive behaviors, which they used in the past to relieve stress and such. Letting go in this natural way is healthy, rejuvenating, and great motivation for them to keep moving forward one step at a time.
In our asana practice at the Scottsdale Recovery Center, I guide my students through breathing techniques and teach them how to use each breath to help guide each movement or hold each pose in the practice. Even more, we talk about using this same focus and attention off the mat—to really slow down to be present in life. Slow down to recognize what they are eating and to taste each bite. Slow down to listen to a conversation they are having and to look that person right in the eyes. Slow down to feel the sun touching their cheeks or to feel the wind sweeping through their hair.
This practice of yoga becomes a great reminder to us. It becomes a little nudge on the shoulder for us to slow down and look around. Slow down and listen to the birds chirping. Slow down and experience life right in front of us…make it last!
– Heidi Malano, Recovery Based Yoga Instructor at Scottsdale Recovery Center