Use your yoga practice to wake up to what is possible for your life.
Winter is for keeping warm and connecting with family to make new memories. It is also a time for reflection, deep thinking and for waking up to what matters in our lives. In recent years, researchers have challenged popular assumptions about the negative psychological effects of wintertime. In one study, participants’ neural activity was shown to become more efficient in winter—basically entering an “eco mode.”
In another study, it was shown that our mental capacity is enhanced in winter. Whether or not you find that you have a “winter advantage,” your physical practice and time spent on the mat can bring the sunshine to any day. Baron Baptiste lives intentionally every day and has spent his life elevating the conversation about—and the practice of—yoga. He shares some tips with 24Life for the ultimate winter wake-up call.
Wake up your body
24Life: How can we use our yoga practice to honor and celebrate our bodies?
Baron Baptiste: Yoga practice is such an opportunity to slow things down, slam on the brakes even and get in touch with what we’re experiencing in our bodies. We have the opportunity to get realigned energetically and physically. In that connection, you have the opportunity to give your body what it needs. Maybe you realize you’re physically more in need of recovery, rest. When I say recovery, it could be recovery from a stressful work week or day. It could be recovery from training, fitness training, sports training. It could be that you’re going through a stressful time in your life, through a transition of some kind. Or you are recovering from some health issue.
It is a deep, deep listening. Often, we drag our bodies around like a ball on the end of a chain, and we kind of talk at our bodies or we direct our bodies to do things. You have the opportunity to alter things. Maybe it’s making different choices. Maybe you’re in touch with your physical experience in such a way that you can up the level of intensity that you’re bringing to your fitness training. You can really honor what’s happening in that sense.
24Life: How should our practice evolve as we age?
BB: I think that with aging, the body still needs what it needs. It needs a healthy level of stress where you’re adding physical demands on your body. Maybe how you’re holding a pose longer, it could be you’re taking it a little deeper, but there are also the demands of flexibility and strength. With aging, often we lose strength, flexibility and balance—and to keep one’s balance is like a muscle in a sense. You need to use that and keep that muscle strong, with postures where you’re moving from side to side, on two feet and standing on one foot at a time, even arm balancing. I think you know your practice is working with aging if you’re still free to do the things you love to do. And your practice should aid that, support that.
Wake up your life
24Life: How should we approach practice when we are depressed or anxious or in general not feeling like showing up?
BB: When there’s greater resistance, that’s when we need to get on the yoga mat and move and breathe. It takes an inner determination to get on the mat, set our eyes, take aim, and sit in our mindfulness and breathing. We have the power to shift things pretty quickly.
24Life: How can we use our practice to find our purpose in life?
BB: There’s something about getting on the mat, getting in our bodies, getting in our breath that allows us to access what inspires us. We get access to what’s in our hearts. Sometimes it takes a yoga pose or a yoga practice to drop into our center and discover what really inspires us is already right here. When we come together in a classroom setting and we’re around like-minded people, communal practice also helps us discover what turns our light on, what inspires us.
Wake up the world
24Life: Any advice for yogis as the world becomes more digital and people are even practicing more via livestream than in studios?
BB: Living so much more on our devices creates more of a silo, and we can lose track of the world around us. An important practice is to stop, drop into your center, find your feet, find your breath, look around, and get present to the people right here with you. It has a lot of power in shaping the universe and offers the possibility of staying connected to what’s happening around us.
Getting present has a lot of power in shaping the universe and offers the possibility of staying connected to what’s happening around us. We also develop that muscle of mindfulness, to fall awake instead of falling asleep—to fall into the now, the present moment in our bodies. The breath is a forever anchor to the present moment.
24Life: How can we use our yoga practice to make change in the world?
BB: If we want to shift our world, it starts with ourselves, through the practice of getting on the mat and moving and clearing our energy. This has a way of fundamentally shifting our being. We emerge off the mat and we have a new view of ourselves, a new view of life, and we bring that awakening to every interaction, everywhere in our lives. When we alter something in ourselves, it very naturally, organically flows into our worlds and other people’s lives and, ultimately, the world at large. We can do our part to bring more awareness, more consciousness and a higher intention to living our lives on this simple act of engaging with a yoga practice.
Wake up 2018
24Life: How can we bring our New Year’s resolutions to life on the mat?
BB: There’s something about having the practice be a kind of platform for one’s life and putting your attention on what you want to have happen. That simple act awakens the possibility of a future, what’s possible in each moment and therefore throughout a whole year. We have the capacity to put our attention on what we want to have happen, take our attention off what’s not serving us, and use our practice to get connected to our North Star.
24Life: What new goals or commitments do you have personally for 2018?
BB: My true north is developing programs for kids using our three essential practices in Baptiste Yoga’s arsenal: practice, meditation and inquiry. Our #Unstoppable yoga for youth training is designed to empower young people to know that they have a say in how they experience themselves and live their lives.
24Life: What’s new for Baptiste Yoga in 2018?
BB: It seems more than ever the world is awakening to the idea of yoga practice, and we are moving toward a new level of reaching more people with the practice through an online yoga studio. The intention is to bring the Baptiste Yoga practices to as many people as possible and present a new opportunity for them to enhance, enrich and empower their lives and whatever they want to accomplish.
About Baron Baptiste
For more than 25 years, Baron Baptiste has devoted his life to creating and sharing transformational yoga practices and programs. He shares the Baptiste Yoga methodology through workshops, books, yoga teacher trainings and his continued work with nonprofit organizations.
An entrepreneur and visionary, Baptiste is committed to sharing Baptiste Yoga in ways that make a real and lasting difference in the lives of people across the planet. His approach to yoga has been a catalyst for society’s acceptance of yoga as a popular practice and is now being used by millions of people globally.
Photo credit: Todd Cribari, inspirostudio.com
Hair and Make-Up: Mariah Nicole, mariahnicole.com