Why You Should Slow Down, Stop & Breathe

Start by stopping. Take a breath. Consider the wonder of it. Consider the gift of silence and stillness.

So often in this busy journey of life we rush forward blindly, seeking something that’s out in front of us, out of reach, in the future. Rarely do we take any time to stop and ask ourselves, ‘Why am I doing this?’ ‘What am I trying to accomplish?’ ‘How is this serving my goals?’ ‘What, in fact, are my goals?’...

This is the grace of yoga: by sheer nature of the practice, you start by stopping, before moving into your asana practice, taking a moment to reconnect with your breath, the present moment, and silence. This stopping is invaluable.

The clarity and creativity that comes from stilling the mind is powerful stuff. Have you ever had a moment of insight (the aha! or light bulb moment)? We all have at one time or another, from small to life changing insights. Take a moment to bring yourself back to one of those experiences (really, close your eyes; go there) and consider your state of mind, state of being at the time. I’m going to suggest it’s likely you were in a restful, relaxed, possibly meditative state. Our most inspired and intuitive thinking comes from slowing down.

This principle of starting by stopping can apply to all areas of your life. This is yoga in action. Think of this: each day upon waking, do you take a few moments to lie in stillness and send out a little gratitude for the gift of a new day? Or, do you groan at the alarm going off, hit snooze (one too many times) and crawl out of bed in anticipation of the first coffee of the day? As you move through the morning and arrive to work, do you take a few moments at your desk or workspace to reconnect with your breath, stopping to set an intention for your day, creating goals for a productive day? Or, do you open your email or grab your tools and get caught up in the forward momentum before having an opportunity to establish your goals or desired outcomes? At the end of the day, when you return home, possibly to the kids too, do you stop and take a breath of gratitude for your family, your home, your security? Or, do you rush into making dinner, hassling the children about their homework and getting lost in the chaos of the evening?

It’s SO easy to do – to get caught up and lose sight of what is truly precious, important and real; allowing this life to pass by with the fast forward button continually pressed.

Start by stopping. Reintroduce yourself to silence and your breath. In this case, you don’t even need your yoga mat; you simply need to commit to taking a few moments throughout your day to connect with your true, authentic self. That self is so vital and intelligent and the more that you connect, the more you come to know who you truly are and all that you are capable of being. Of course, this can be practiced regularly with your yoga. Move into your yoga practice, setting stillness and clarity as your intention and commit to creating the space for silence and calm. Great things will arise, both on and off the mat.

The mind is a powerful tool with limitless possibilities. I encourage you to tap into it. When you perceive challenges, problems, barriers – when you're struggling – tap into the stillness. A solution may arise from that space. The benefits of meditation are becoming increasingly recognized, from the simplicity of clearing your mind to the reduction of heart attacks and disease. The possible rewards of taking the time are limitless.

Enjoy the journey. Namaste.

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