I can’t help but notice that, when it rains, less people come to yoga classes. There’s something about the damp, grey and chilly weather that re-directs intentions and leads people to their home destination rather than to the studio or their mat. Rather than write this to make all of you who have been skipping your yoga classes in Pittsburgh for the past couple of rainy days feel guilty, I am writing this because it has inspired me to think about yoga practice as a way of grounding and coming home that provides the same comfort as skipping school and cuddling with your cat instead.
When we feel this need to “go home,” there are ways to shift our practice so that we create an embrace of asana and breath that warms the heart-mind and body. First, honor your mat. Make a ritual of your practice and have placing your mat on the earth as one of the elements of that ritual. Your mat becomes the sacred place where you can explore the embrace of spirit and mindfulness. When you take your seat and you want to set a cozy tone for your practice, make it a soft seat. You can do this by placing a cushion under your sitting bones and blankets under your ankles and knees. If you are in a cooler space, drape a shawl or light blanket over your shoulders.
Start your practice with a heart warming chant of the seed syllable “Hung.” First, watch your breath and then, as you deepen the breath, sing “Hung” using your diaphragm muscles and slowly allowing the vibration to ease tension in your heart. You can chant this syllable for as long as you like, just repeating it over and over again. Notice where you feel the sound vibrations and give yourself a few minutes after you are done to feel the differences in your body and the quality of your thoughts and breath.
Finally, give yourself permission to stretch and open to movement in your practice in a more organic way. Not sure where to start, get on your hands and knees and so a few cat/cow and see where the spirit moves you. Perhaps, you will want to move into some seated stretches or maybe a series of heart opening back bends? Maybe you will come into downward facing dog and move through a series of lunges and warrior poses. Maybe you will realise that what you really need is to take your legs up the wall and daydream! Whatever it is, keep the cozy intentions of your practice and make yourself feel at home.
Cheer up Pittsburgh!
Posted by Sharon Rudyk
Owner and Director of Yoga Matrika