Sitting in Stillness

Guiding students through a body scan and breathing exercise at Barre Yoga Juice

Guiding students through a body scan and breathing exercise at Barre Yoga Juice

My feelings about yoga started off lukewarm at best. I'd heard so many people raving about it that I basically expected a transformational experience after only a few minutes on the mat. I know now why it's called a practice.

I dabbled with taking a class here and there, but after going to Bikram (a 90 minute class where the room is heated up to 108 degrees) and being sweat on by someone else, I decided it wasn't my thing. 

It wasn't until I was going through one of the most challenging times of my life that I came back to yoga and finally connected with it on a deeper level. Tangent: I'll do a blog post on why this time in my life was so hard and discuss how choosing to get rid of toxic people in your life can be the hardest yet healthiest thing you do for yourself.  

I can't remember what the instructor said exactly, but she spoke about more than just how to move our bodies. About how some of what comes up on the mat relates to life off of the mat. I may or may not have shed a tear or two, and this wave of understanding why people felt so profoundly connected to yoga washed over me.

Recently, a different instructor of mine said:

"The hardest thing you can do is sit in stillness with yourself. It's harder than any yoga pose."

I thought about this, and how our culture and society idolizes being busy, never slowing down, and barely sleeping. We pride ourselves on how full our plates are (literally and figuratively). Even in our "down time" while watching TV or scrolling through social media, we're being actively distracted instead of mindfully reflective about what's going on inside.   

We've become so accustomed to this that the idea of sitting with our thoughts can sound not only foreign but also fear-inducing or not worth our precious time.

In the moments when we want to, and maybe even try to, slow down and sit in that silence, we often don't know what to do. Or it feels too hard.

So, what DO we do then?

There’s a loophole.

You can be a part of a community with others while doing this challenging internal work. A yoga or meditation class is the exact space for that. If you’re nervous to try one, maybe a friend is also interested and would go with you. If you don’t like yoga, apps like Headspace provide a virtual community for you to sit in stillness with others while in the comfort of your own environment. 

You can also ease your way into stillness by doing reflective activities to tap into what’s going on inside. I do this with my career coaching clients by helping them determine their drivers and asking them what they really want to do, if they could do what they want instead of what they think they should do.

With health coaching clients, it’s through giving people tools to help them figure out what foods actually make their bodies and minds feel good, instead of mindlessly eating or just following wellness trends.

What keeps you from sitting in stillness?

Do you make time for it, but fail to follow through? Are there certain parts of your life that feel easier to avoid by keeping yourself busy? Do you just genuinely forget to take time to check in with yourself?

How different might your life look if you took just a few moments each day to simply breathe and acknowledge where you are?

aspire with aileen yoga and wellness

Come sit in stillness with me this Sunday (4/30)! I'll be leading the restorative yoga (aka lots of laying, stretching, and breathing) portion of a wellness workshop. We'll enjoy free Juice Press samples and you can enter a raffle to win a free 60 minute mini-intensive health coaching session with me ($150 value). Details and registration here - only $19 for 90 minutes of class + freebies!