Beginner’s Mind: Active Adult’s Fitness Exercise

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senior woman exercising on beachStand with your feet hip width apart, isometrically draw your heels away from the balls of your feet, bring your shins toward each other as you press your inner thighs back.

Let your tailbone point toward the floor and pull your belly button back toward your spine, then lift your kidneys toward your shoulder blades, press your shoulder blades toward each other and scoop them forward to lift your heart. Open your hands out to your sides and press your shoulder blades onto your back as you let your crown float toward the ceiling, and remember to, using ujjayi breath, breathe deeply and evenly; full inhalations and complete exhalations.and remember to keep the alignment and your breathing consistent in every pose..

Is this your first yoga class? Feeling just a bit overwhelmed? Even the most seasoned yoga teacher will never forget their first yoga experience. Everyone who does yoga has been there. We watched the other more practiced students with longing. We tried to remember to breathe in the most foreign body positions, and became acutely aware of all those past injuries, physical weaknesses and the discomfort.not to mention the unsettling memory; “I used to be able to do that in high school.” “Yeah.” says your mind, “a thousand years ago!”

We all begin yoga right where we are. My first yoga class was as demoralizing as it could get for me. It felt like every injury and ache I’d ever had came up screaming “Remember me!” I was horrified at what I couldn’t do. Over the screams, or under them, I’m not sure which, I heard a little voice in my head that said “You don’t have to like it, just DO it.” So, reluctantly I made a commitment to myself to do yoga twice a week for a month. I vowed to not think about it, not analyze it and not judge it. After that month, I knew if I ever stopped my yoga practice, I’d be really sorry someday. Now, I can’t even imagine where I’d be without yoga. It changed my life. I certainly never thought I’d ever be a yoga teacher, not in my wildest dreams!

Yoga is a practice, and that’s the keyword, “practice.” It’s an unending unfoldment process. It has been said that when we master the poses is when the true yoga begins. Regardless of our condition when we begin, change is inevitable. As our bodies change, so does our perspective; as we go deeper and deeper into the yoga process, we go deeper and deeper into ourselves. Awareness and acceptance of our own evolution process physically, mentally and spiritually gives us a foundation for maintaining a fresh approach in every yoga practice; the invaluable attitude of “beginner’s mind.”

How would you lovingly treat a child who is overwhelmed, uncomfortable and confused?
Treat your beginner-self with at least as much compassion. Whether a yoga beginner, or a seasoned yogi, if you dedicate each practice to your highest vision of your highest self, and if you can be loving and considerate with yourself regardless of your limitations, you’ll be on a beautiful ever-changing yoga path to your own enlightenment. In every yoga practice, we’re all beginners, experiencing the magic of yoga anew in each pose.
A beginner’s mind is open to possibilities and sensitive to potentialities. A beginner can’t even begin to compete, and yoga is not a competitive sport. A beginner is open to learning from the masters, and mastery of yoga is a never-ending process. A beginner is respectful and humble in the face of challenges; in yoga we are respectful and humble with ourselves. And a beginner celebrates even the smallest successes; in yoga we celebrate the miracle of being.

Maintaining the beginner’s mind allows us to be in the moment, aware of the ever changing, ever new. Everyday we are different, every practice is different. As teachers, we know that every class is different, every student is different everyday and the energy of the class is different every time. If I, as a teacher, get caught up in the expectation that the class will be the same every Tuesday, or that a particular student is limited in a predictable way, I will create a self limiting environment that doesn’t serve my students or my practice as a teacher. It’s just as critical to stay with the beginner’s mind in my personal practice as well, to stay creative, fresh and available to a deeper experience in every practice. An integral part of yoga, as a teacher or as a student, is to remain open to the endless possibilities that are available through a beginner’s mind. We can remain in awe of our flowering yoga practice as it brings us to new levels of awareness, possibility and celebration.

Just as the petals of the lotus blossom unfold deeper and deeper to the heart of the flower, our yoga practice takes us deeper and deeper into our own hearts. What we find in the unfoldment process is who we really are, and that is magnificent! So welcome the opportunities that your practice brings. Welcome and celebrate all the aspects of yourself as a Divine being remembering your true nature. Through the inevitable challenges and discomforts there lies discovery, transcendence and bliss! .And that’s what yoga is really all about.

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