Downward Dog

I don’t know if you have tried yoga before, but I would highly recommend it no matter your fitness level. I work at a desk job. I hate to admit that aloud because I always swore off of such a job during college. But here I am. A desk potato. Much to my chagrin.

Yoga feels so good after being stiff and still in a chair all day. It even elevates my mood. There’s just something so good about taking an hour out of your day to relax and be grateful for yourself.

Now, if you’re looking around the room at the accomplishments of everyone else instead of focusing on training your own body, you’ll probably end up feeling incompetent. The key in yoga is to focus inward.

If you’re a competitive person like me, you may have the tendency to go farther in the stretch than the person next to you. It’s always better to do what you are comfortable and able to do so that you don’t hurt yourself. The real competition is with yourself. Sometimes you have to push yourself a little farther to get the improvement you need, but it shouldn’t be painful.

My former yoga instructor (she’s since moved) used to keep us in the pose called Downward Dog. It is deceiving in that it looks easy, but I find it to be one of the most challenging poses for someone just starting out in yoga. Basically, you are on all fours, creating an equilateral triangle with your body (at least ideally). Your hips should be up, heels down, fingers spread, and your head hanging loosely. My instructor would keep us there for several breaths while she walked around the room and helped us correct the position of our hands and feet.

Downward Dog is an active pose; there are many muscles engaged in this pose. Maybe that’s part of why I like it. It’s more efficient and I feel like in encompasses many health benefits into one pose.

Another thing I like about Downward Dog is that you are supposed to relax your neck and just let your head hang. And if you are looking around the room at everyone else, you can’t really relax your neck. So you have a wonderful opportunity to really focus inward without paying attention to the distractions around you.

This is such a good metaphor for life. We should all spend a little more time focusing inward, fine-tuning the little things that make a big difference, and learning to ignore the petty distractions that surround us.


Photo credit: myyogaonline / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Photo credit: myyogaonline / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)



Little Things Not Wasted

I’ve become so goal-driven that I push aside the “wasteful” things that don’t help me with my goals. It’s ridiculous, because it can make me disregard the things I do purely for entertainment. I hate to admit this, but housework is usually put above fun things like playing guitar. The feeling of urgency with housework is always greater than the need to relax. Okay, so I get it, the floor needs vacuuming, but sometimes I just need some music to regain my sanity. Isn’t that important too?

We cheat ourselves when we live by the priority list and refuse the things that don’t offer a paycheck or help us change the world. Those small moments are important–those silly, fun moments where time slips away and nothing is gained but memories. That’s life. And it’s worth something, too.

I’ve been failing miserably at this. I’m always too busy. But arguably, the majority of Americans would probably say that they are too busy. Everyone’s time is important because we all have a limited amount of it. Advances in technology can make things easier and more efficient, so we have no excuse to fit in the things we enjoy. If you set the things you enjoy as a priority, they become just as important as the housework. And even just five minutes of enjoyment is better than none.

Why do I punish myself by always working and never playing? We were meant to play just as we were meant to work. We should pay attention to the things we enjoy because God gave us those things for a reason. If you enjoy something, God made you to enjoy it. Now, obviously, I’m talking about the things you like that are also healthy and good for you.

My problem is in thinking that just because I have fun doing something, I should make a career out of it. And I don’t think that’s always the best solution. I love singing along and trying to play my favorite songs on guitar. I listen to songs carefully to have a full appreciation of the artist. Listen to Nat King Cole on vinyl and you’ll understand. That man brings me to tears with his talent. He chose to perfect what he enjoyed doing and because of that, I get to enjoy it too. That’s why it’s important to do what you love.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I don’t have what it takes to launch a music career. And that’s perfectly fine. I still enjoy music that way I did when I wanted to start a band. (I just have better taste now.) And even if it doesn’t bring the money in, it’s still good for me.

Don’t cheat yourself. Take a moment today to enjoy the things that make you truly happy. Even just one small moment. It’s good for you!