Have you ever experienced the following scenario?
You’ve planned your day perfectly, packed a great lunch, and your yoga clothes so that you can smoothly make your way out of the office with just the right amount of time to get to your favorite class at 5:30. You are out the door and on your way when you hit traffic. It’s at a stand still and now you are stressed that you will make it in time. The traffic finally starts to move and you pull into the studio parking lot only to find that it is full and you have to go to the overflow lot next door. You park and run to the door and into the studio like a crazed lunatic. With a minute to spare you change into your yoga clothes, throw down your mat, and attempt to smooth your hair as the teacher takes the seat at the front of the room. You definitely need your yoga now.
As a teacher, I actually think it is perfect when I see a student fly in all disheveled and last minute because it makes the juxtaposition of practice that much more potent. It is exactly why we take the first few moments of class to settle in. For most of us, presence is an unfolding not an instant switch we can flip. The beginning of class is an initiation. It is an opportunity to usher our minds into the present moment, ground our bodies, and center ourselves. But, what if this process doesn’t need to be isolated to the yoga mat?
Building in little moments of presence throughout the day can have a profound effect on how you think, feel, and interact with others. Taking time to pause and breathe decelerates the nervous system and builds resilience. Over the last year I have made a commitment to incorporating daily rituals of presence into my own life and it has made a huge difference in my capacity to navigate the ups and downs of life with more grace and ease. If this is something that interests you it is important to make it your own. The more tailored it is to your unique needs the more likely you will be to stick with it. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
Morning Ritual of presence:
Lemon Water – One of the best things you can do for your digestion first thing in the morning is drink water. Adding lemon to your water can elevate your hydration game and create a more alkaline internal environment which better equips you to fight disease. Lemon also helps with digestion. If you drink coffee or tea in the morning try having lemon water first. You can make this a nice ritual by heating the water in a tea kettle, squeeze your fresh lemon into the water, and then sitting to enjoy it without any other distraction. As the weather cools for fall it might be nice to sit outside and enjoy. Taking ten minutes to do this every morning sets a tone of presence and benefits your body. Double win!
Midday ritual of presence:
Midday rituals can give us a respite from the busyness of the day and provide a great opportunity to reset the nervous system. I find a midday pause to be the most challenging to remember but also the most rewarding because it is all too easy to get caught up in the pace of the day without ever stopping to check in with ourselves and reconnect.
All that is necessary here is to step away for a few moments to recenter. This could be taking three conscious deep breaths, going for a short walk outside, or sitting for a brief mediation.
Evening Ritual Of Presence:
Evening is a time to wind down and release the day. I find restorative postures to be ideal just before bed. Restorative postures cultivate a sense of calm and peace and prepare the body and mind for rest. Supported butterfly is my favorite. Try this pose for 8-10 minutes shortly before bedtime. Rest in savasana for a few after or go straight to bed and tuck yourself in under the covers.
Enjoy taking time for yourself throughout the day. Make the practices your own, but stay consistent for the best results.