Tag Archives: Find Your Body

Coming Home

There is a concept in yoga called “Coming Home.”

I remember the first time I experienced a few yoga poses. My husband and I had signed up for a stress reduction class. We did just a few yoga movements on the floor. When I stood up at the end of the class, I could feel the pulsing of blood flow in my spine. It was heavenly…and I wanted more.

So we signed up for an 8-week yoga class for the back with Peggy Cappy.

And then another, and another.

Sometime during that first year, I felt without a doubt that I wanted teach yoga. With Peggy’s encouragement, I took my teacher training at Kripalu in Lenox, Mass. At that time, I understood yoga only as a physical release. It feels really good to stretch, and it feels really good to relax.

During training, I began to notice how light I was feeling after class. Physically light, as though a weight had been lifted. I was carrying myself differently. Made sense… I was learning how to align my body and use my muscles in new ways. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my pathways of energy were becoming unblocked. Things were moving more freely. I felt happier, more centered. I realized my yoga practice was changing the way I interact with the world.

Hmmm… that didn’t come just from physical movement (I’ve been physically active my whole life). But yoga is meditation-in-motion and it was bringing me into contact with a place deep inside, a place that is the best part of me.

As it broke through physical barriers, It was also breaking through emotional barriers and zeroing right into my heart center. More importantly, I was becoming aware of this… I was beginning to live mindfully. I was becoming more myself.

Once back at my desk job, I started to notice how much less stress was affecting me, how much less small stuff bugged me. It started to sink in that Yoga can be more than physical, but it doesn’t have to be. The Kripalu tradition encourages each of us to find our own practice. It talks about the union of body, mind, and spirit, but without dogma… This was perfect for me.

Back to that yoga concept of “Coming Home.”

Coming Home means finding your authentic self. It means being in touch with a place inside that is beyond the reach of anything, or anyone. It is beyond language, beyond thought. There is no judgment, no striving, no ambition, and no despair. It is a place of simply being. And when I touch it, I know it is good. I know it is what I am. I know it just is. It is from this place that the best of me emerges. And in that place spirit lives. From that place, we touch what is real. It is intensely personal, and it is universal.

I invite you now to experience being present within your own body through focus on the breath. Sit (or stand) with your feet flat on the floor. Sit back comfortably in the chair so you are not slouching, and your hips are in a neutral position (neither tilting forward nor backward).

Feel the weight of your body. Notice how you hold your spine. Gently lift the front of the spine. Allow the weight of the head to be held by the spine, and feel the neck and shoulders soften.

Come into deep, smooth, and slow breathing. Focus on the breath coming in and out of your belly.

Allow yourself to stay with this centering breath for 3 or 4 minutes. With practice, you may enjoy this meditation for a longer time. But “Coming Home” for even a short time each day will open you.

Namaste (I honor the spirit in you that is you.)

Visualize your Vagus Nerve

Your vagus nerve is the commander-in-chief when it comes to having grace under pressure.
Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today

Do you know about your vagus nerve? Know its characteristics?

I didn’t even know I had one until a few weeks ago. Wow, this one is major and perhaps you’ll join me on this inquiry about a fascinating part of us.

Vagus nerveHere’s an early anatomical illustration of the nerve, borrowed from an article in Psychology Today by Christopher Bergland. This should give you an idea of its importance.

Rooted in the cerebellum and brainstem, the nerve branches to both sides of the body and feeds information to and from most of our organs, all the way to the lowest area of our abdomen.

Mr. Bergland’s article is well written, informative, and easy to understand. I suggest you check it out. And then breathe deeply as you visualize your vagus.

The sympathetic nervous system is geared to rev you up like the gas pedal in an automobile – it thrives on adrenaline and cortisol and is part of the fight-or-flight response. The parasympathetic nervous system is the polar opposite. The vagus nerve is command central for the function of your parasympathetic nervous system. It is geared to slow you down like the brakes on your car and uses neurotransmitters like acetylcholine and GABA to literally lower heart rate, blood pressure, and help your heart and organs slow down.

Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today