When we come to the yoga mat, the odds are high that the beloved brain that helped us get there safely and on time is a beta brain. Beta waves are evidence that we are responsive to our environment. This responsive brain wave ensures that we can drive our car safely…reach out and help steady a toddler right before he takes a tumble, move our hand quickly away from a hot burner or prickly pear cactus spine.
Beta waves – we all have them. And they are great! But because the brain in beta wave pattern is primed to quickly react, you can probably guess what beta waves don’t help us do – slow down and relax.
There are simple and effective techniques we can use to help us settle onto the mat and turn beta waves into alpha waves…those softer, smoother, more relaxed brain waves. We can incorporate a period of arriving in our Yin Yoga practice and give those beta waves a chance to transition.
A marked moment of arrival to our mat draws a line through spacetime, a threshold we cross to enter the sacred space of Now. Intentionally arriving helps us decelerate from the yang rush of the day to a more yin-like pace. Bringing a stabilized awareness with us into the poses helps us pay close attention to the sensations we feel and the whole of our inner experience, keeping our practice both safe and beneficial.
Our Practice Starts When We Stop
This isn’t always easy, but we have these three acknowledgments that can provide a framework to help us do it: acknowledge where we are, how we are, and our practice intention. You can think of them like three questions- Where am I? How am I? Why am I here? To find the answers you might try employing an internal scan of body, mind, or heart…maybe a breath mantra technique such as breathing in-here, breathing out- now, or perhaps a visualization to help you let go of anything that might be pulling at you, like imagining dropping a leaf on a river. There are countless methods to explore and expand on, and I’ve included many in my book, able to be used as-is or as a starting point for your creative and intuitive adaptations.
When we’re aware of how we are and what we need on all layers of our being, we can make choices to honor and tend to those needs. And, at the end of our practice, we can take some moments to recognize and savor all the beautiful ways our mat time has benefitted us. This is another way to cultivate our continued commitment to ourselves and our practice journey.
Arrive to the Mat is the first of seven Practice Principles in Yin Yoga & Meditation to help us enjoy an empowered, inspired, and transformative experience. The pathway we take into our practice is bound to change, those questions of where am I? how am I? why am I here? will likely have different answers every time we arrive. And that’s ok. That’s beautiful! Each day, each moment is full of freshness, each of us continually made and re-made by the miracle of being. We made it to this moment. Now, how can we help ourselves truly inhabit it?
To dive into the practice principles, and into all of the core elements of the practice, I hope you’ll consider checking out my book, Yin Yoga & Meditation: A Mandala Map for Practice, Teaching, and Beyond and joining me for Yin Yoga & Meditation Training, a 40hr live online training that welcomes you, whether practitioner or teacher, on a journey into the practice and into yourself.