When is The Best Time To Practice Yoga?

The light is truly within you (3)

Ask yourself this, how many excuses do you have, to not do yoga in the first place? When you have experienced the balanced mind and uplifted spirit after a Yoga practice, you will be convinced that Yoga can be done absolutely everywhere, at any time. The best time to practice Yoga is always now, this is the only time we’ve got.

I woke up today with anxiety and I knew exactly what needed to be done.

My experience with Yoga in relation to my anxiety is that I feel so good after finishing a Kundalini Kriya. I’m a completely different person, I’m more calm and centered, I feel stronger, I feel uplifted and relaxed. This is the effect Yoga has on me after spending 31 minutes with my breath, being mindful of my movements. After the meditation and asana, I spent some time with myself, listening to my inhale and exhale. Mindfully just being here in the now, noticing how my body sensations were. Am I hurting somewhere, do I have any tensions in my body. I do a complete body scan where I start with my feet and go all the way up to my head.

I continue with affirmations on Metta – Loving-kindness, its actually a Buddhist prayer for universal loving-kindness and compassion to everyone. I start with myself and reciting mantras that I have customized to fit my needs and take care of my own well-being. Then I continue thinking and sending my love to my boyfriend, my soulmate. Then my family members that they may be loved, be free of suffering and have mental happiness. I end the Metta meditation with a prayer for the world, continuing the meditation on compassion and loving-kindness to the entire planet.

20 min Metta / Loving-kindness Meditation by Lizzi Healy

A lot of times I include some specific incidents that I have encountered. F.example I was out driving with my love and we happened to see an animal transport truck driving to pick up farm animals to the slaughterhouse. I immediately started crying my heart out for those innocent sentient beings that didn’t know yet what was about to happen to them. I cried my heart out for those lovely beings and prayed for them to be safe, to be free and loved. In the ending meditation for the world, I included this prayer to take care of everyone suffering, particularly in this case the farm animals. I have such compassion for all animals, even insects deserve to be saved from suffering. Seeing someone is threatened with violence and murder just completely breaks my heart. Having this meditation in the end of my kriya I expand my love and compassion to the world and everyone who may be in suffering and in need of loving-kindness.

Many people today are suffering from stress seeking to learn how to relax and find balance in this world. We get troubled by difficult emotional states and we suffer, we don’t know where to turn. I’ve been there, I used to say to myself; I don’t have a chance on getting better. I have anxiety and this is who I am now. The problem was that I didn’t allow myself to love myself deeper, I didn’t want to see what I had within myself. But today I know for sure that I have the experience to know in my heart that I have resources to fight my way through until the transformation takes place. Namely liberation. The freedom to be who I am, my authentic self who loves myself exactly as I am. I was reading Esther`s blog post on How to Accept Yourself. She says that;

Self Acceptance is something most people struggle with in this society, we are today because the society has this “standard” that we all struggle to meet. But the true fact is that we can never meet the standard because we are humans and we are made imperfect.

She lists some tips to start accepting yourself;

  • Celebrate your strengths: do not focus all your attention on your weaknesses as it would not make you lose your confidence. Instead, shift your focus to more positive things about you.
  • Daily affirmations: when you wake up in the morning, go to a mirror and look at yourself and say nice positive things about yourself and it will definitely help you love and accept yourself.

I completely agree with her on spending more time to focus the attention on positive facets of your personality such as your strengths and not paying so much attention to what your weaknesses are. By mindfully staying in the moment you change your thoughts. By listening attentively and mentally you can see what kind of thoughts that pass through your minds theater. You can shift, change and alter all thoughts and set a new course for yourself and your well-being.  In regards to changing your mind, affirmations are a good way to start.

The light is truly within you (5)As Ester says “Affirmations is something you can do in front of the mirror when you wake up in the morning”. You can actually set the tone of the day by redirecting your energy to a different vibration. Those vibrations are love, self-acceptance, compassion towards self and others, altruism, positive words and working mindfully with these words every single day. You may find it hard or be challenged to even trust the words that you are telling yourself, you might have a feeling of emptiness where you don’t see any meaning in all of this. My experience of setting the intention of today is the realization of how emotions actually change, you know the saying; What you think, you become? There is something to it.

Lists of Excuses
But we do have the longest lists of excuses of why we shouldn’t embark on something new that leads to better our lives. How long is your positive list? How much time is spent cultivating self-acceptance? Self-love? Compassion towards others? It’s important to reflect on these things to get a clear understanding of why we think the way we do. Some people need to find more acceptance within themselves, and they will through experience and mastering the art of thought learn to control their own energy.

Self-Affirmation has stress-protective effects
In this study published in 2013 of May on NCBI, US National Library of Medicine shows that self-affirmation has stress-protective effects in performance settings. It provides an initial indication that self-affirmation can buffer the effects of chronic stress on actual problem-solving in performance settings. In another study also published on NCBI, on September of 2009 led to the conclusion that the sympathetic nervous system responses to naturalistic stressors can be attenuated by self-affirmation.

Through mindfully exercise the focus of attention we need to be awake to the moment that is here and now. Jon Kabat Zinn says it so beautifully in his quote;

Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing. – Jon Kabat Zinn.

In meditation you might struggle to anchor yourself to this particular moment,  just being here breathing in and out might be challenging. Not thinking about what happens next, or how you may feel after even. Try staying here, it’s here where everything happens. I noticed my mind racing to the end of the Kriya because I feared the physical challenge of this particular asana. I mentally and mindfully drew my mind back to the now, into neutrality so I could focus intently on the breath, inhaling and exhaling exactly where I was. Disciplining the mind is hard due to its natural inclinations of holding on to old habits, the mind is dressed with all your past, it holds everything you were in one place. The goal of Yoga mentioned in;

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in the first chapter: Samadhi Pada (Explanation on Concentration) 

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः ॥२॥

2. Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Chitta) from taking various forms (Vrittis).

preparing yourself to enter the pursuit of self-realization is a most significant step in life. The first word mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is atha, which means now. This particular word, for now, implies a preparedness in arriving at this auspicious stage of desire and commitment towards self-realization, which is the highest goal of Yoga. In the explanations of this second sutra, that Yoga is the restraining the mind-stuff from taking various forms there is a wonderful analogy about the mind and its faculties and we can understand it better.

“The bottom of the lake we cannot see because its surface is covered with ripples. It is only possible when the ripples have subsided, and the water is calm, for us to catch a glimpse of the bottom. If the water is muddy, the bottom will not be seen, if the water is agitated all the time, the bottom will not be seen. If the water is clear, and there are no waves, we shall see the bottom. That bottom of the lake is our own true Self, the
lake is the Chitta, and the waves are the Vrttis”.

sattva

There are three states of the mind: Tamas, Rajas and Sattva
“Again, this mind is in three states, one is in darkness, which is called Tamas, it only acts to injure others. No other idea comes into that state of mind. Then there is the
active state of mind, Rajas, whose chief motives are power and enjoyment. “I will be powerful and rule others.” Then, at last, when the waves cease, and the water of the lake
becomes clear, there is the state called Sattva, serenity, calmness. It is not inactive, but rather intensely active. It is the greatest manifestation of power to be calm. It is easy to be active. Let the reins go, and the horses will drag you down. Anyone can do that, but he who can stop the plunging horses is the strong man. Which requires the greater strength, letting go, or restraining? The calm man is not the man who is dull. You must not mistake Sattva for dullness, or laziness. The calm man is the one who has the restraint of these waves. Activity is the manifestation of the lower strength, calmness of the
superior strength”.

As you can read from the above excerpt from the translations of the sutras there are faculties of the mind that needs to be addressed and disciplined to attain Sattva, the pure mind and still the waves of your ocean. The mind will naturally draw attention to distractions of the mind but it’s your assignment to draw it back again to the Atha (the now) I drew my attention back to my breath, listening to my inhale and my exhale. I was here in the now, here in the moment. Doing my practice.

Now.


Join the discussion:
Feel free to join the comments if you have any questions regarding practicing yoga. Questions to ask you about your own personal experience with yoga may be:

Q: Do I have difficulties bringing my focus to the now? Can I be here completely, letting go of the thoughts?  Do I have reoccurring thoughts about the past and the future?
Q: What do I do when I’m stressed? Do I have a resource within that I exercise to better my mental states and emotions?


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Thanks for reading!

Tiaga Nihal Kaur, 
Namaste ॐ

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