Monday, October 20, 2014

yoga lessons from the spinning bike

I took my first spinning class in over a decade yesterday. Since my love affair with yoga began I've been content to stay glued to my mat. Alas, two back to back pregnancies, and everything that goes with love and loss and nursing and literally using my body to care for another left me wanting to challenge and use my body in new and different ways.

Spinning class in my mid 20's felt much different than spinning class in my late 30's. It was a much greater challenge for my body, but my mind knew exactly how to work for my greatest benefit.

I found myself smiling through much of the class (even when my quads were on fire) because I just felt so appreciative of the ways in which yoga was informing my experience on that spinning bike, and that's what I want to share here. 

I think you might get some value because the beauty of the yoga practice is that it translates to so many areas of your life.

1. The power of visualization:: We use visualization often in yoga class. I love that this is encouraged in spinning class. One image came to me spontaneously during class as we were pedaling up an imaginary hill. Just when I was wondering if we would ever get to the top of the never ending hill, an image of my daughter popped into my mind. I saw her joyfully standing at the top of the hill, arms open, waiting for me. I got a burst of energy and climbed that hill, feeling pretty awesome. What image can inspire you to move through your day or a task with more energy, grace, love, or joy?

2. Where's your focus? In yoga class we use a drishti, which is a place where we direct our eyes in order to direct our focus and regulate our energy. In spinning class I used only two spots to focus my attention, one while I was seated and another when we came to standing on the bike. Doing so helped me to stay connected to the moment, my experience, and give me more energy. Where is your focus today? Is it where you need it to be?

3. Mind your breath:: Yoga is just as much about the breath as it is the poses. It's so easy to pay attention to your breath in yoga and forget about it most other times. I made sure to make my breath a focus and priority on that spinning bike. I know it made a huge difference in my experience. Your breath is your best friend, especially during challenging moments. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

4. Its all about the sweet spot:: In class I always talk about effort and ease in our poses. This balance of strength and sweetness can balance out most things in life, I do believe. There was a lot of effort on that spinning bike, but I made sure to find ways to access ease. Sometimes it was mindfully relaxing my upper body while letting my lower body go to work. Other times I felt a sense of ease when a song came on during a particularly challenging moment. How can you find some sweetness and ease during a hard task?

What do you think? How does your practice on the yoga mat translate and inform your life off the mat? I'd love to hear.

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