Rushing through the grocery store, I mentally checked off the items on my list: done, done, and done. I checked the time and realized again that it was much later than I wanted it to be. Now to get home and get dinner started. Except when I got to the front of the store, the check-out lines were backed up into the aisles. This was going to take awhile.
I started to grumble, “Why did I stop at this store? They are always so slow, this is going to take forever. Now I’ll never get everything done! I almost let myself completely give in to the frustrating feelings that were welling up.
Choosing to Live in the Moment
But then I realized I had a choice. Sure, I could choose to spend the time in line mentally complaining to myself. Or, I could choose to be present. When you’re present, you accept the moment as it is, without trying to change or judge it. This acceptance brings about feelings of peacefulness and releases feelings of stress and worry.
I thought back to my yoga training and remembered my instructor telling us to practice our tadasana, or mountain pose, when we stand in line or wait for the bus. This certainly seemed like a good time to try it. So there in the line, I grounded my feet, stood up tall, and inhaled deeply. I immediately let go of the stress and frustration that was gathering in my mind, and by the time I reached the cashier, I was even able to muster a smile.
Practicing my tadasana pose in line also helped bring me back to the present moment. Being in the present moment simply means having an awareness of what is happening right now, not judging the experience but accepting “what is.” Tadasana is a great pose because it can literally be done anywhere, and it helps bring a mindful awareness that grounds you in the present moment.
Being Present with Yoga
Yoga practice, in general, helps you live in the moment. It sharpens your mind and helps you see the world more clearly. At the heart of yoga is the return to your true essence. Instead of trying to make you someone else, yoga helps guide you to a deeper understanding of yourself.
If you want to practice being in the moment through yoga, here are five easy poses that will help you be more present today (warning: some of these may not be suitable for the grocery store).
Tadasana or Mountain Pose: Stand up tall like a strong oak tree, opening your shoulders wide. Put your feet together, slightly lifting the arches of your feet while allowing yourself to be firmly grounded to the earth. Allow your arms to relax at your side with your palms facing front.
Child’s Pose or Extended Child’s Pose:This is perhaps the most comforting yoga pose. Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching and then sit back on your heels. Lower your torso down to touch your knees, allowing your arms to relax alongside your legs, or do an extended child’s pose with your arms in front of you. Relax and breathe, focusing on the inhale and the exhale. Stay here for 30 seconds up to several minutes.
Downward Facing Dog:This is a basic yoga pose that can help you feel more centered and aware. From your hands and knees, gradually push up with your legs, keeping your knees slightly bent and then allowing them to straighten until your body forms a sort of triangle. Keep your head between your arms and don’t let it hang. Stay here for 30 seconds or up to several minutes.
Lotus or Half Lotus Pose: From a seated position, cross your legs and sit upright. Depending on how flexible you are, you may be able to bring your feet onto your thighs. If not, don’t force it. Hold your hands open and allow them to rest on your knees. Relax and focus on the breath, remaining in this position for 30 seconds to four or five minutes. This is an extremely powerful position that will settle your nerves, quiet your mind, and bring you back to the present moment.
Savasana or Corpse Pose:This is generally the final pose in a yoga session and perhaps the most difficult because it quiets not only your body but also your mind. Allow yourself to lie flat on the floor, arms resting softly on your sides, palms facing up. Soften your face and allow the tension to be released from your forehead and between your eyes, close your eyes and focus on your breath, paying attention to each inhale and exhale. As thoughts come to mind, release them and return your focus back to the breath. Remain in this pose for four to five minutes.
As you practice yoga, being in the moment becomes easier. While it’s likely you’ll still get stressed or flustered, being able to return to a place of centered awareness will help you create a more beautiful and peaceful life.
Photo Credits: Matthew Ragan, Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Tiffany Berry, Anne Wu, US Marine Corps, RelaxingMusic, and Robert Bejil.