RiverTribe Yogi Jacky Lampl writes about the importance of ritual in modern life
We are all creatures of habit. But something we don’t usually appreciate is that a habit is defined by its unconscious nature.
Rituals are different and are always performed in a conscious or mindful way. Changing a good habit into a ritual is one way of bringing focus and attention into our lives. Consciously bringing a ritual into your daily routine can transform your sense of wellbeing. Incorporating your own rituals into your life will enable you to build resilience to cope with stress and unexpected challenges.
The early morning or late evening are both perfect opportunities to introduce a ritual, which will either get your day started with focus, or wrap it up in a calm way.
In my experience, it is easier to begin with an evening ritual. To be on top of your game, preparation is key and if you’re an evening person like me, then you should take advantage of your internal clock. This is the reason why I do as much as possible the night before. I prepare my breakfast the night before, I plan the physical activities in my schedule and prepare my yoga classes for the next day. I finish off with a moving meditation with deep stretches to relax my body and to wind down with a focus on deep breathing, to let go and dissolve the emotions and thoughts of the day. You can turn this into a “sacred” ritual by having a dedicated space where you unroll your mat, light a candle and play your favourite music. This makes it easier to fall asleep; and a good night’s rest is essential to stay balanced and to rejuvenate your body and mind. This helps me to sleep without worrying about all my lists of do’s and don’ts.
To give myself a head start to the day, I wake up early enough not to feel rushed. A warm shower is essential for me to practice yoga first thing in the morning. After jumping out of the shower my body is warmed up to practice yoga and I finish off with some meditation.
Why not make one of your own favourite movements into a Ritual? A five-minute stretch of the big muscles in your body with a focus on your breath will help you quickly to wind down at the end of the evening. Incorporating meditation into your early morning for just 20 minutes is proven to bring significant benefits after several weeks. Whether you introduce your ritual at the beginning of the day or at the end, it is important to form your intention. This is the beginning of ritual.
Jacky’s workshop on Rituals will be at the Bull’s Head in Barnes on November 4th.
Jacky Lampl, founder of Be yoga
RiverTribe reaches out to its yoga gurus for the latest on an ancient practise.
Here Sarah Tucker writes about the enduring attraction of a form of exercise which is a way of life.
The philosophy of yoga centres on listening to your breath, then strengthening, lengthening and deepening your breath in order to learn mental and physical focus. That is the keystone of yoga practise.
There are many techniques about how to discipline the mind. Mindfulness will work with one person, while running a marathon will work with another. Yet yoga remains, to me, the most effective way to achieve mental resilience and tranquillity.
It has always been the case that exercise experts like to deliver the top ten tips on how to get fit for life, but these are always cyclical while the techniques which help you calibrate your breath have remained constant.
We have all seen fads come and go. High impact aerobics endorsed by Jane Fonda in the 70s evolved into low impact aerobics of the 80s, probably because high impact exercise completely bashed the knees.
Often I teach yoga to many of those who damaged their knees taking part in relentless, high impact aerobics classes - some of which I used to teach myself. Aerobics was really designed for people who were already fit to maintain and enhance their fitness, not for those who weren’t fit to get fit.
Then there was the Step, which was brilliant for toning the butt, until teachers decided rather than focusing on the exercise they would focus on the choreography and it became more a test for the memory and the brain than the abs and gluts. It became a badge of honour to have as many rises as possible underneath your step, so that one was for beginners and if you had three or four you were a ‘step expert’. However, if you tripped up, not only did you go flying off into another stepper but so did your equipment.
Then there was urban rebounding on the mini trampolines. It was hilarious, seeing uptight control freaks try to loosen up without their bladder doing so. I enjoyed that phase the most, feeling like a born again Tigger allowed to bounce up and down, grinning from ear to ear.
Then, kick boxing arrived. This was brilliant for strengthening the back, the butt and lengthening the limbs. But it ignited aggression rather than alleviating it.
Spinning, in a darkened room, to music, is still in fashion but the idea of cycling and going nowhere has a psychological effect, as if you are running around a park and ending up in the same place from which you started.
Yoga is now very much back on-trend. But the western world has morphed it into something competitive and gymnastic. We should not forget its origins are to do with the breath and nothing but the breath. That is why it works.
If you do not listen to your breath, you are just stretching to music and if you are stretching to music you might as well be in the cool down of Jane Fonda’s aerobics workout, feeling the burn rather than listening to the breath.
Yoga is a complex and powerful form of mental and physical effort. There is no short cut. We practise yoga because it is the journey of a lifetime.
For details of classes: www.sarahtucker.info
©RiverTribe Magazine 2017