How To’s

Living In The Moment

Living In The Moment 2100 1494 Gayl Walder Yoga

How Do We Truly Live In the Moment?

You hear it all the time: “You just need to live in the moment,” “Let go and live in the present,” “Live your life right here, right now!”
But how do we actually live in the in moment? This command is such a general statement, yet it is also very complex.  For each of us, “Live in the moment” will mean something entirely different depending on our unique situation.
Firstly, we must understand why living in the moment is so important. The truth is, life goes by incredibly fast. I know that for me, every year of my life seems to pass with increasing speed. As my children grow, the moments seem to escape me: my duties as a wife, mother, writer, and teacher can overtake my life, and make me feel like I’m being taken on a wild journey instead of being the leader of my own journey. Making a commitment to live in the moment gives me the time and space to choose my reactions, instead of recklessly responding to people and events. Living in the moment allows me to enjoy the process of my life instead of rushing towards some far off goal. And, living in the moment allows me to be the woman I want to be: I can simultaneously find joy in my life while confronting the more difficult components. I can be an excellent mother, wife, writer, and teacher instead of letting those roles dictate my reactions.
However, one thing is very clear: when I make a commitment to live in the moment, peace effortlessly overrides overwhelm, joy overtakes frustration, and clarity vanquishes uncertainty. While your own life might look very different from mine, here are a few simple ways you can start living in the moment today.

Take a Break From Tech

One of the most simple ways we can start living in the moment right now is by putting our phones down, or maybe even turning them off altogether! Have you ever sat with a friend, child, parent, spouse, boss, significant other, or even an acquaintance, and noticed that she is not really listening to you or understanding you, all because she’s on her phone? Perhaps the tables are turned, and you are the one on your phone, not really giving others the attention they deserve. We have all been guilty of this in one way or another, and sadly, many do not realize the consequences it has on our relationships, our emotions, and our connections with others.
Let’s start with our younger generation: many children and adolescents have social issues because they are not sure how to have a face-to-face conversation with peers, and even with adults. While the inability to connect in real life can be the result of more serious issues such as non-verbal learning disabilities, it can also be a result of overly immersing our children in technology. The permanent plug-in undoubtedly isolates us, and can keep our children from learning the essential skills they need to build their own communities. By being an example for our own children and making a decision to only use technology for scheduled, focused periods, we can inspire them to connect in real life, and find happiness in nature or by moving their bodies.
On the other hand, many of us have lost important friendships because we were never able to speak to our friends, and we know how difficult it is to maintain a friendship with depth and meaning through texting alone. I feel sad when I call a loved one or friend and they never answer the phone. Instead, they will only text me. I truly enjoy good-old-fashioned eye contact and speaking to people in person. I like to see people smile, and if they are wearing a frown, maybe there is a reason why. We don’t notice these things in a text. We can’t always feel pain, or pick up on something in a text.
If we choose to take a break from our phones and laptops, we can really make a connection to the people around us, and inevitably, we end up living in the moment!

Move Your Body

Movement can ground us in the moment immediately, because it forces us out of our heads and into our bodies. Have you ever felt so busy that your heart rate speeds up and your breathing becomes rapid? Maybe you haven’t even realized the changes in your body because you are moving too quickly through your day and processing the world at such a fast pace.
Ironically, movement is the antidote to time that moves too quickly! When we move, our breathing regulates, we connect to our bodies, and we feel our blood pumping through our veins. Our whirlwind of thoughts immediately dissipates, because we can only think about the movement we are engaging in! Yoga is my preferred form of movement, and I cannot even begin to describe the peace that my practice gives me. It’s so easy to discount making time to work out when we are so busy, but I’ve learned that, when I can commit to my yoga practice on the days where I’m my busiest, I can find more peace in the moments I would usually react to negatively.
Next time you feel like you are overwhelmed or like things in your life are moving at a speed that’s out of control, make the time to move. It could be as simple as throwing on your running shoes and going on a run outside, or making the time to do a yoga class online. You can even set up a yoga session via Skype with me!

Choose What You Love About the Moment

This is the most simple piece of advice I have to share; however, it is truly the most difficult one to implement. When our world is moving at the speed of light, or if things feel too hectic to relax, we must make the conscious choice in every moment of our lives to choose a few things we love about the situation we are in. If you feel overwhelmed by motherhood, choose to focus on the fact that you created incredible children, and that you get to teach them to be the best versions of themselves. As mothers, we are truly making the world better, because we are responsible for making a more compassionate, intelligent, and forward-thinking population.
If you feel overwhelmed by your romantic relationship, make a mental shift to focus on the things you adore about your partner. If you feel overwhelmed by work, think about the things your job allows you, such as a salary in which you can fund your life, a community of colleagues, and the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than yourself.
This process is certainly easier said than done. However, the benefits are revolutionary. Choosing love in every moment, no matter what, gives us the opportunity to be in control of our own reactions, and therefore, in control of our own life. When we surrender to love no matter what the situation is, we truly are living in the moment.
Play around with these three ideas, and see what it feels like when you surrender to the moment you’re in right now!

The Eight Fold Path

The Eight Fold Path 1500 1000 Gayl Walder Yoga

When I began my Yoga journey-over 20 years ago, I remember first hearing the words, “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” I never forgot those words, and I never understood how my mind would calm down and stop thinking, but miraculously, it did.

What begins as a physical practice for many eventually evolves into something so much more. It begins slowly – little things that once bothered us don’t seem to be such a big a deal. How we react in different situations begins to change, how we think, how we act, how we love, and how we live are all affected. I believe it is important to understand that there are eight limbs of yoga, and out of those eight limbs, Asana – the third limb – is the only physical limb. One of the most important lessons we can learn are the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Yoga is the union of the body, mind and spirit. The physical and emotional. Yoga teaches us equanimity. How to stay calm in the middle of chaos. The Eight Limbs of Yoga are the inner workings of the mind along our journey to find inner peace. I think that when these are broken down, it helps to give an understanding of what each individual goes through at different times in their lives. Since each individual is unique, these experiences are different for everyone.

The Yamas and the Niyamas are the first and second limbs of the Eight Fold Path. The Eight Fold Path is the Buddha’s code of ethics (or written guide) which will help you on your journey in life.

Social Discipline or observances is the foundation of how we treat others. In simple terms, these are the things not to do. The NIYAMAS: Individual Discipline or observances is the foundation of how we treat ourselves. Simply put, these are things we should do.

I truly believe that I live a yogic lifestyle, and have been guided by these principles in one way or another. I follow the Golden Rule, and always try to see the good everyone and treat others as I would like to be treated. I also try very hard to take care of myself.

The poses, the breath, the emotions, and the challenges we face on our yoga mats are stepping stones for when we step off our mats into the real world. How do you treat yourself? How do you treat others? How do you handle stress, change, or things that don’t go as planned? How do you stay calm when you feel like your world is falling apart? How do you get “unstuck?”

The information below is what I feel is so important to understand. Your Yoga practice will evolve, and you will feel happier and more at peace within yourself, which in turn will rub off on others.

Definition of Yoga

In Sutra 2 of the first chapter, Patanjali has defined Yoga as

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः॥२॥ “yogascitta vritti nirodhah” (Sanskrit)

“Yoga is the restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff”

– translation by Swami Vivekananda

In subsequent Sutras, Patanjali explains that once the mind is properly restrained, then the “seer” or the “soul, the true self” can rest in its own true nature. Further, as long as the mind is not under control, it continues to assume the form of the “vrittis,” or the perturbations in the mind and these vrittis become the cause of human suffering. In simpler terms, what this definition tells us is that we can be peaceful and happy when we can control the mind; or else, the mind continues to control us, and we stay in a state of suffering.

Ashtanga Yoga (Eight limbs of Yoga):

The Eight Limbs of Yoga as defined in the second chapter are as follows:

Yamas (self restraints): The Yamas are guidelines for how to interact with the outside world at a social level. The five Yamas are Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (abstinence), Aparigraha (non-hoarding).

Niyamas (observances): The Niyamas represent guidelines for self-discipline. The five Niyamas are Shoucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Swadhyaya (study of the scriptures and self-study), and Ishwara Pranidhana (surrender to God). Together, Yamas and Niyamas provide an ethical and moral code to be followed so the aspiring yogi can establish an adequate moral foundation for his/her spiritual journey.

Asana (posture): Asana refers to the seated posture which should be steady and comfortable so the yogi can sit and meditate for long periods of time.

Pranayama (breath control): Pranayama, which literally means stretching or expansion of prana, the vital life force, involves breath control and helps train and prepare the mind for dharana (concentration).

Pratyahara (sense withdrawal): Through pratyahara one gains the ability to withdraw the senses from their objects thus achieving perfect control over the senses.

Dharana (concentration/focus): Dharana involves focusing the mind on a single object of concentration for long periods of time.

Dhyana (meditation): When there is an uninterrupted flow of the mind toward the object of focus, the yogi enters the state of meditation.

Samadhi (total absorption): Finally, when even the self-awareness of the mind disappears and only the object of meditation shines through, this is called the state of Samadhi. It is only in the highest stage of “Samadhi,” called the “Nirbeeja Samadhi” (seedless Samadhi) when the mind is fully under control and brings the yogi to a state of perpetual peace and tranquility.

The main focus of Patanjali is controlling the mind and subduing the fluctuations of the mind, called ‘chitta vrittis.” Once the mind is calm and peaceful, one gets established in his own true nature: Yoga Sutra Study.