As a yoga teacher, I devote a lot of time toward teaching my students how to anatomically align themselves so they can find greater flexibility, strength, mobility, ease and balance in their bodies. Part of that process is meant to direct their focus on both the small and large details of the practice and how it all comes together to create a collaborative whole.
What I love about the practice is that all of those details are held within an ever-expanding state of conscious awareness. The practice of yoga is about cultivating our awareness so that we can exist in that state more often. We train ourselves, as practitioners, to place our focus on our bodies, breath, alignment, thoughts, emotions, energy, etc. And through that practice we become more efficient at consciously choosing where we want to hold our attention.
Our realities are shaped around where we place our attention. If we focus on negativity, then our life situations will reflect negativity. If we focus on qualities and behaviors that we would like to invite into our lives, then our life situations will eventually shift to reflect that reality. The difficulty is that often times we are unaware of what we’re focused on. Usually we’re unconsciously repeating habitual tendencies and patterns of thought that have been formed by the way we were raised and our life experiences. By practicing awareness on the yoga mat, in our interactions with others, or by simply observing our own thoughts and emotions, we start to realize where and how we place our attention.
I’m always amazed when I discover a habit or barrier inside myself. Sometimes the realization stings a little, because I recognize that I may have been blaming or hurting others for a behavior that I was holding within myself, but at the same time, it is so liberating, because I have the power to do something about it—I can apologize for the behavior, if needed, and then choose to let it go! There is no better feeling then finding space and freedom from self-inflictions or habitual tendencies that harm us or those around us–especially when they were at one point, hidden from view.
My intention this year, as a teacher and student of yoga, is to devote extra time and care in helping myself and my students understand the importance of conscious awareness and how it affects every aspect of our lives. There is limitless expansion with regard to understanding its relevance and there will always be more to discover about ourselves, the world, and each other.