Take Your Practice Beyond the Mat

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Take Your Practice Beyond the Mat

Our Beginning Yoga Series Students have been doing great, and have accepted a challenge each week to take their individual practices Beyond the Mat.

It literally only takes a few minutes to do this. You will bring attention to your body and do some mindful movement, and with that you will notice the difference in terms of connection to your body and on the spot mindful regulation.

Here are a few of those Beyond the Mat ideas to integrate into your practice:

  • Breath awareness, being aware of the breath more often likewise makes a difference. It doesn’t matter how you breathe, just being aware shifts the experience and impact.
  • Be aware of your feet. Tuning into the feeling of your feet, your balance, your articulation as you walk helps keep you be grounded and more present.
  • Find neutral spine every day. This means you are aligned head to the tail in a natural way- natural includes curves. The best way to know it is to lie flat on the ground. Or to stand with your heels, hips, back, and head to the wall. You won’t be flat, you will notice the curves. Your posture is designed like a spring rather than a rod. This alignment is the visual for the mind/body connection and the basis of all meditation postures.

The point of these simple suggestions is that it is easy to get lost in all we have to do. And with that stress and disconnection accrues. I call this body driving head around.

Yet, the body experience is the anchor back to present moment reality and the power to adjust in real time, rather than ignore and be overwhelmed later on. By being aware of the body now, you are back in the driver’s seat.

All these formal practices: yoga, meditation, mindfulness are known as: Somatic Training. Where you are developing your natural ability to attune, attend, and respond- to balance physical, emotional, and mental energy and information, to relate rather than react …ie to self-regulate your nervous system.

Self-regulation implies that your nervous system can and will regulate itself, it is unconscious and autonomic function.  These functions though may not be optimal or accurate, and we can get into chronic patterns that generate unnecessary stress, pain, and illness.  Self-regulation gives you the power back, it simply requires some awareness and intention to slow down and notice what’s really happening.  It’s certainly not a cure-all, but it does make a subtle and significant difference in the long run.

So, to repeat:  Move and feel your body simply with curiosity, be aware of your breath more often, feel your feet regularly to shift attention from the head, lie down and align your posture on the ground.  This moment matters.

Natasha Korshak
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Natasha Korshak is a long-time teacher and trainer of yoga, meditation, mindfulness and MBSR, and has been working in the field of integrative health and wellness her entire professional career. She is a graduate of the Interfaith Theological Seminary and an ordained Interfaith Minister specializing in contemplative practice, grief processing, and spiritual direction. Her study and training of mind/body/spirit methods is extensive and she has learned from many of the pioneers in their discipline. As the founder and director of the Sol Center she is well regarded for her depth, warmth, authenticity, and the smile in her voice.

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