Mindful at Bernal Yoga

07 September 2011 | By rachell | Be the First to Comment

Mindful at Bernal Yoga

By Rachel Lanzerotti, September 2011

One of the students in the Intro to Mindfulness class I taught at Bernal Yoga in August described meditation practice as, “just one yoga pose held for a really long time.” Turning it around, another way to look at this is that all yoga poses and movement can be meditative, or mindful.

What is Mindful Yoga? This is the open question that guides my new class at Bernal Yoga, on Friday afternoons from 2:30 – 4:00 PM starting September 9.

The class is based in Hatha Yoga, focusing on slow, alignment-based asana, with restorative and yin poses, as well as breathing practices (pranayama). Each class allows time for guided meditation on the body and breath, based in vipassana (insight) meditation, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and iRest® yoga nidra.

To experience Mindful Yoga, come to class and check it out for yourself. But here’s a short answer to stir your interest, for now:

Mindfulness is about paying attention with intention, and Mindful Yoga teaches this through movement and meditation with the body and breath.

Yoga is a method for learning to be deeply attentive to our embodied experience in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness in yoga—as simple as paying attention to sensation, for example—can draw our attention inward. Mindfulness offers an approach to waking up to experience, with kindness toward whatever is happening now.

While teaching, I sometimes hear the question from students: Am I doing this right? And I may ask them, directing them inward in response: How does it feel?

Once we’ve found alignment in a pose that’s safe and appropriate for the body, any asana offers a universe of sensation, varied actions, and focal points. Noticing how we direct attention in the practice and how the practice feeds our capacity for attention — this is Mindful Yoga.

Focus on your embodied experience in yoga practice. Go deeply into familiar yoga postures, and access your curiosity and presence in daily life.

Curiosity. Presence. Attention. These are qualities of mindfulness that are embedded in yoga. They can be found within the myriad forms and styles of yoga. Yoga cultivates strength, balance, and flexibility — in body and mind.

How can we pay attention to the body and breath? What happens when we do, or when we don’t? How does body awareness deepen our practice of asana? In what ways does movement practice support formal meditation? And what, when it comes right down to it, does this have to do with how we approach everyday life? These are questions that underlie the exploration of Mindful Yoga.

I first heard Rumi’s poem, The Guest House, at Bernal Yoga many years ago, shortly after the studio opened. In some ways, this poem, and especially the lines, “This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival…. Welcome and entertain them all,” still captures the essence of mindfulness practice for me. With awareness, we gain resiliency and capacity to meet life events with responsiveness and equanimity rather than reactivity.

If you come to class toward the end of the month and into October, I’ll be just back from silent retreat at Spirit Rock’s Mindfulness Yoga & Meditation Training program. Meanwhile, Hatha Yoga instructor Katy Fox teaches the Mindful Yoga class in my absence, on Fridays September 16 & 23. Class starts Friday September 9, 2:30 – 4 PM.

Leave a Comment