Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Living your yoga

Sweet Greetings Dear Yogis and Blog Travelers! My name is Meredith Swim, and I’m honored to be cyber space downdoggin’ on the Barefoot Works blog!

​ “Live your yoga off your mat” is one of my favorite life philosophies. This phrase invites you to breathe deeply in the check out line at Kroger, show compassion in 5 o’clock traffic and be present as you listen to love ones. The mundane blossoms into infinite opportunities to express consciousness.

​I re-awakened to this piece of yoga wisdom this fall. I craved a smooth, easy transition from the sweet days of summer to the academically rigorous days of my senior semester, and living my yoga off the borders of my pink mat has gently guided me back into the swing of school. My thought scattered races to campus have transformed into a mindful walk of admiration for the autumn sunshine, the subtle beauty of the old houses neighboring my own, the crystal blueness of sky. Weaving my way through the throngs of students on campus, I’m no longer tempted to get annoyed and judge others when I remember that we’re all connected.

Living yoga off the mat reminds me that those chemistry majors, fraternity brothers, the English teaching assistants (especially the super cute one) are reflections of myself, and me of them.

Living my yoga translates to redirecting my irritation toward the loud freshmen in my biology lecture and channeling it into compassion. Once, I was a freshman, and in the course of life, I’ll probably swing through that role again; so, I’m exercising tolerance and compassion for those talkative, inquisitive freshmen.

​Yoga is even a helpful friend in another role- the actor’s role! I’ve been living yoga off the mat in the backstage and front stage world of UK theatre and have discovered that the theatre and yoga worlds overlap.

A few years ago, I visited a yogi friend in LA. I was surprised to learn that most of the instructors at his studio all pursued acting careers. In LA, though, even the policemen are aspiring screenwriters, so I thought it was just the Hollywood bug. Now, as I stand behind the curtain in mountain pose and breathe deeply to ground into character, I understand how the acting and yoga realms beautifully blend.

Taking yoga to the backstage eases the transition into my character role. In the play, I’m a Spirit and enter through a portable door. This has become my “yoga room.” In the quiet darkness, hidden behind the door’s wooden box frame, I inhale and sweep my arms up and exhale, place my hands to my heart. Breathing away those butterflies, seeping my feet into the black stage floor- grounding into character. I interlace my fingers, roll my shoulders back and open my heart, activating heart energy. On stage, just like on the mat, I am present. I’m listening to my fellow scene partner, aware of my movements. Mindfulness in theatre spotlights.

​From the mat to biology lecture to the stage, living yoga is breathing new vitality into my day. I’m curious to see how it will stretch into other aspects of my life. So, invite your yoga to journey with you off your mat. It’s your back pocket friend that can support, surprise and foster a re-awakening to life’s every changing sweetness and beauty.

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