Thursday, September 19, 2013

Yoga: One Path to Mindfulness

In. Out.   My breath was loud in my ear while sitting cross-legged on my mat.  The warm, dim yoga room wrapped me in comfort as sweat dripped from my brow and landed on my closed eyelid.  There was nothing on my mind but the hum of the breath, my stretched muscles relaxed after the flex and pull of a vigorous class.  “In, out, let the breath flow and feel its presence within the body.”  The instructor’s voice was soft, putting me in a trance. This is it, I thought.  I’m finally getting it.  The yogis are right.  This feeling is beyond words.  No description can do it justice.

I’d been practicing yoga on and off for ten years, mainly because I envied those yoga bodies, lean and
strong and flexible. Yoga was all the rage, apparently the “cool” way to get there.  Joining the masses I took classes whenever they fit my schedule - usually a few times a month.  Never really understanding the hype, my curiosity kept me going.  “Maybe I’m going to the wrong studios?  The wrong classes?  Maybe it’s the instructors? It could be the type of yoga?  Hot Naked yoga?”  The line had to be drawn somewhere!  Through my pursuit my interest did slowly increase, eventually taking class at least twice a week. Not solely for the workout, but because it did something to me.  It wasn’t the exercise high felt after a long, fast run; it was deeper.      

I became a yoga instructor to better understand what that something is.  Not just to comprehend it but to live it.  The morning after that yoga class, I read the slip of paper attached to my yogi teabag. It said, “In order to master something, teach it.”  And so I did.

Five years later, nothing is mastered.  In fact, the more I learn, the more questions come up.  For instance, "Who masters yoga?" There’s a reason why it’s called a “practice.”  We’re always practicing.  The teacher is the student and the student is the teacher – we cannot separate the two. 

One thing became clear early in my training: the time spent moving our bodies on the mat (asana) is only a tiny fraction of yoga.  That blissful feeling at the end of each yoga class partly happens because our minds and bodies deeply connect.  And the more present we are, the better we feel. A big part of yoga is exercising our mindfulness muscle.  Being aware, alert and present on the mat, leads us to live more consciously off the mat. But yoga is merely one tool.  There are numerous strategies we can practice to live a more mindful life - without ever stepping on the mat.  Inner Light of Mine Blog will present some of those mindful strategies while offering you an opportunity to comment, add insight and ask questions. 

It took practically ten-years of yoga classes before I finally made that sought after mind-body connection.  Even if someone whispered the secret in my ear the very first class, it wouldn’t have mattered.   I had to be ready.

My hope is that this blog inspires you to be ready.  And if it finds you ready, perhaps it’ll inspire you on your journey.  If not, maybe your child will be your motivation.  We cannot teach what we don’t embrace.  Let’s pass this forward and give our next generation a true Present

Each blog post will offer an opportunity to explore.  By presenting different components of mindfulness, highlighting its effectiveness, and suggesting useful hints I hope to awaken this ancient practice in you. 

I look forward to reading your comments and added insight.  Please offer your input.  Give suggested topics and take this opportunity to become part of our mindful discussion.

                                    By living mindfully we awaken to the life we’re living.

Remember to click “For the Kids” for mindfulness ideas you and your child(ren) can enjoy together.


  1. Val- As you know I don't have kids, but I do have nieces and I feel that they would and should be into Yoga. I see so many parents at a loss for how to do it all, school, activities, homework, socializing (way too many birthday parties and way too many gifts but thats another topic) family time etc.... It is almost impossible on my own without such a massive responsibility to get it all DONE. Perhaps yoga is more necessary than we think or feel. I thank you for being SO IN TUNE and bringing what so many of us already think we know to the forefront of this day. It takes a lot to sit and just be. Personally it is a major goal of mine. Thank you for your ability to articulate and your warmth !!! Namaste....

    1. Lee - your comment warms my heart. A big thanks for voicing what so many of us are thinking. Yes, it does take a tremendous amount of effort to just be - eyes closed, totally present and aware of ourselves and the moment. Many of us can't find the time for a few conscious breathes a day - or maybe we don't want to? Afraid of what will surface? Of facing ourselves? Of looking inward? We all have five minutes to sit consciously, the question is, what will motivate us to take the step? Probably a question we need to ask ourselves. Let's remember, small efforts reap large rewards ;) Thanks again for your feedback and beautiful insight ;)


  2. The beauty of yoga is that it's already there inside of us. The practice is for re-membering it, and the best way to do that is to surrender, listen, be mindful, lead with the heart, and shine it onto others by giving it away. Thanks for giving it away, Valerie. Shining back at ya from the Rockies. Namaste.

  3. KIm - LOVE your reminder ;) YES! Yoga - union, oneness, connection - is already within us, our journey is re-membering what we already know. You wrapped it up in a nice concise package. A big thanks for sharing your insight all the way from the Rockies :)))) Keep joining the conversation!!


  4. Val,

    Something. First song, second side, Abbey Road. The preface to a masterful musical journey. Something.

    It could be the love George Harrison felt. It could be a moment lost in laughter. Or, a woody trail skied in dappled sunshine. It might even be one's work, if she isn't alienated from her labor. Or yoga.

    So, I relate to your quest and cheer on your effort. You know that your job as a guide is to take that yoga something and link it to those moments and happenings - those opportunities to be peacefully in the present, to find joy, gratitude and/or peace. If you can get others to recognize and feel that opening and to apply it throughout life's waking moments, then you will have found a universal way. For, we can't be physically in yoga at all times. But, we can achieve something.