Less effort. More breath.

My yoga instructor offered it again today. “Less effort. More breath.” That’s how she guides us through our poses.

I came home from my yoga class, quickly enjoyed my fresh-from-the-oven oat bran muffins (you may make fun of me, but I actually love them and my cholesterol is great without drugs) and cup of coffee, and headed off to the gym with my daughter so that she could smoke me in lifting and cardio. “How do you work out twice?” she asked. “Why are you doing all this, when you just did yoga?”

But yoga is not about working out for me. And as much as it’s exercise, it’s not about exercise. Yeah, I’m thrilled that I can almost get up into a handstand without using the wall as a prop, and I can hold a handstand (once I’m up) without leaning on the wall, and I realize that’s incredible exercise. But yoga to me, more and more, is about the mental and spiritual aspects. It’s about less effort and more breath.

It’s about reminding me to be mindful and in the moment – which no matter how many times I write and blog and speak and teach about being mindful, I can still, at times, walk away from the kitchen not sure if took a pill or not (or which one I took). I can think I’m being present and then realize I don’t know if I turned the oven off when I took my muffins out of the oven…until I’ve learned to mindfully notice my turning the oven off. Intentionally notice.

Yoga reminds me not to try as hard. I am a recovering “try harder-er.” I was proud of myself this morning when my daughter texted me as she biked and I elliptical-ed, telling me that she was going for seventy minutes instead of sixty. The old me would have gone for seventy too. The new, improved me realized that I had also done yoga and I was tired. And done. I let myself stop ten minutes before her and simply stretch. And lie on the floor and rest.

Yoga reminds to breathe. And to focus on my breath. To use my mind and my attention to find a reason to relax. And smile.

Yoga reminds me not to push. Or at least not always. To allow. To release. To, as a friend mentioned to me today as we sat on my side porch and talked through an opportunity she was facing, let go.

Yoga brings me to this moment. And this breath. Yoga challenges me as I hold hard poses and stretch in ways I never thought I could, and as I acknowledge and make room for my various aching body parts – permitting me to modify my poses when I need to. And to feel fine about modifying poses when I need to. Or want to.

Yoga is becoming much, much more about less effort and more breath. Life is becoming more about that too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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