by Gwen Ragno
We are now in the second week of our journey into the wonderful world of yoga, and things are starting to heat up a bit—in the best way. Molly and I have had our first four Yoga Six Ignite classes, learning first how to use our breath to focus our attention on the present and work through difficult poses, then how to engage the mind and focus our practices to our own needs. Thursday’s class, on Valentine’s Day, focused on the heart (appropriately), resulting in some glorious backbend stretches.
On Monday night, everyone in the class was challenged to set an intention for our yoga practice, and then carry that intention over into our regular lives. I set the intention to be more conscious of the tension I tend to build up in my shoulders, neck and forehead, and try to let it go every now and then. As someone who works on a computer all day, I often find myself squinting my eyes with my shoulders hunched up around my ears, rocking a wicked headache. When I noticed that same tendency carrying over into some of my yoga poses over the past week and found out how great it felt to correct that and feel all of the tension melt away, I knew this was a skill I wanted to learn to perfect. It’s press week at ALIVE, which is a stressful time for everyone in the office—so what better time to practice noticing and releasing tension? After a full week of doing this, I’m already getting better at melting away that tension on demand. Molly tells me that the intention she set that day was to be less hard on herself—both in the yoga studio and out. “I need to remember that both yoga and daily life are practices, and improvement comes with patience and positivity,” she says.
Thursday’s class played marvelously into my intention to stop holding tension in my shoulders. It was all about focusing on the heart center—which lies right at the center of the chest at the sternum—and lifting it to lengthen the back and drop the shoulders. Try it—instantly better posture. This was the first class that has actually left me sore the next day, mostly in the long back muscles along my spine. Incidentally, I also was missing my traditional tension headache on Friday.