Knowing when to say yes or no is everything. This meditation shows you how.
A global force, Baron Baptiste has been influential on the international and American yoga scene for over two decades. His message and the methodology of Baptiste Yoga have produced powerful results for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, and his work continues to be a source of enormous influence. His newest book, “Perfectly Imperfect: The Art and Soul of Yoga Practice,” teaches that the “mystery and challenge of yoga is that much is discovered through a rigorous physical practice, yet its greatest power lies beyond the realm of the body.”
Baptiste sat down with 24Life editor-in-chief Lashaun Dale to discuss breath, consciousness and the power of listening deeply to your body — as well as your inner and highest self.
Lashaun Dale (LD):
You wrote this book based on your own experiences on the mat, and it shares insights into how transformative yoga became for you, once you began to practice asking the question “now what?” Can you explain more?
Baron Baptiste (BB):
Creating postures has been only part of the journey. Once you’re in the posture, a whole world opens up. The book is for anyone who lands in a “pose” and wonders, now what? Part of yoga practice is getting present to one’s body. To one’s experience. To one’s life.
We use asana — yoga postures, yoga practice — as a way to get present to oneself. To one’s body. And there’s really such a power in getting present. We all know what it is to be distracted, and life is always pulling us in so many directions. And we all know what it is to be somewhere and not really there, or not present to our own body. And that has impact. So the practice of really getting present to my body, getting present to this breath, this moment, opens up a whole new world. A whole new Earth.
LD: Listening to the body is crucial on many levels. We tune out our bodies so often, especially when in a digital trance on our computers or mobile devices. Where can we start to feel and then listen to our bodies?
BB: The breath is key. Typically, we’re not aware of our breath. Whether we think about it or not, we breathe. But when we suddenly bring our attention to a breath, in this moment, this breath — I’m inhaling, I’m exhaling — it shifts our perception and our experience. So, just through a simple thing like breath that’s typically unconscious, when we make it conscious, we gain awareness and then power over the moment. In yoga practice, we make breath conscious and we become more conscious, we have the experience of being more awake, more now, here, present. Just through breath.
LD: In the book you also talk about being a “yes!” Many of us would like to be better able to make decisions in our life, and say yes to what will be good for us — and no to what will not. But we have a tough time saying no! So, what do you mean by that concept?
BB: Language is more than just the words that you say. You show others who you are in the world through body language, energy and expression. So being a “yes” really is about what is important to you. What really interests you, your goals? What are you passionate about in your physical body? What do you want to achieve and maximize or optimize in your physical health and well-being? What is it you want to accomplish in your life? What are you passionate about in your life? To be a “yes” is to really stand for those things that inspire you, that are important to you, that matter to you.
LD: How does being a “yes” carry through to meditation?
BB: Energy follows attention. So wherever you put your attention, energy goes there. Meditation can be a practice of putting your attention on what you are a “yes” for, and on the actions that will get you there. Take your attention off whatever disempowers you, and put your attention on what you’re a yes for.
Surround Yourself with “Yes!” Energy
Here are some more ways you can harness the power of “yes.”
Watch your mouth
Words create our world — at least, our perceptions of it. Be conscious of what you say to yourself and to others. Consider whether your words are predicting results, because they’re likely to shape what shows up for you — or at least how you see it.
Surround yourself with good people
Find your community in a health club, at work, everywhere. Be responsible for your “yes”; put yourself out there and connect with people. You can surround yourself with others who share similar passions and interests, and who encourage you to step up to something bigger in your life.
Get on your mat and listen
Your yoga practice serves more than your body, especially if you are listening for your inner voice and intuition to speak. This requires that you consciously create space in your pose, to just be. Try (don’t obsess, just try) to get all your thoughts, words and assessments out of the way, to really clear your mind and internal dialogue. This gives you the ability within a posture to be in that new sacred space in which you can hear your “yes.” This works outside of the gym, too.
Read more about Baron Baptiste, Baptiste Yoga and the new book, “Perfectly Imperfect.”