Each morning I get up and have a few things that must happen to get my day started. Kettle goes on for coffee, and with the burner on the stove I light palo santo. I open the blinds and turn on some ambient music to wake up the space. I go to the bathroom and rinse my face and brush my teeth. I get dressed enough to take Rosie dog out to pee. I pour over my coffee in my favorite mug (the only one I use), and take Rosie out while the coffee cools. By the time I come back in, the light and smell and coffee temperature is just right to get my day started.
This is how I organize my body, breath, and mind before I ever step foot on a mat or into my day. Before the multitasking can commence, I must prepare with some uni-tasking.
As we take a look this month at productivity, I thought it important to dive a little deeper into how we create the environment and mindset to support a productive lifestyle. This is not a guide to organizing your home or office (I could never touch the genius of Marie Kondo anyways), but rather a turn of attention toward the importance of getting the inner space organized.
In yoga, the common ritual is to lay out the mat, set the props, and perhaps prepare with some self-centering before the class begins. Then the teacher centers the group as a whole with breathing and intention setting. This is the time to transition from the rushing world to the rhythm of the breath and prepare for the challenge of practice. If you've ever walked into a class late, you may be familiar with the feeling of being one step behind, unprepared. These centering moments can be the difference between the tone of the practice being strong versus scattered.
Throughout the practice the body is arranged and aligned in shapes, movement is cued with breath, forcing the mind to focus. What appears to be a simple static posture is the beautiful culmination of layered alignment, supported with energetic engagement, sustained by conscious breathing. Yoga is simultaneously multi-tasking and uni-tasking, over and over.
Throughout our day we are positioned in different scenarios, and often asked to match rhythm with many people, forcing the mind to focus. What appears to be a simple task is the culmination of learned skill, supported with commitment, sustained by...caffeine? Life is simultaneously multi-tasking and uni-tasking, over and over.
As productivity increases, it is important to proportionally prepare ourselves for the high calling of a full life. It serves no one to to show up without your needs met, and this organization of body, breath, and mind is another way of looking at basic self care.
So let's say its a very busy day. I'm trying to get more done than is really possible to squeeze in. Perhaps I've reached a point where I feel creatively stuck, perhaps I'm fumbling my work frequently, perhaps I'm easily frustrated with myself and others. I recognize this as a moment that I need to connect and sort it out. So what does it look like to "organize" body, breath, and mind? This is what it looks like in my brain:
I ask what needs in each category can be met so that I may continue to show up. It's a practice in going inward and preparing for the next challenge, or sustaining the current one. It's not about what circumstantial needs have to be met for me to continue, those are often illusive and usually don't even solve the problem. When these internal areas are supported and working in harmony, I can be the best version of myself, I can show up for the demands of my life, and I can show up for others.
The pose that I'm doing in the photo heading is this week's peak pose that I'm teaching in class (every week this is the case). I don't know what it's called, I saw it on Instagram and I thought it looked so interesting. It has taken me a month of practicing to understand how to get into it and therefore teach it. It is one of the most complex postures that I've come across in a while, and it's a sneaky balance pose! Every point of alignment has to be set just right, it requires full body engagement so as not to fall over, enough opening to get the leg up, laser focus (just look at my concentration face lol) to hold it all together long enough to get the photo, all while remembering to breathe so that I don't pass out. It is the physical manifestation of organizing body, breath, and mind.
It is a teacher, like the many other challenges we face off the mat, that leads us to ourself. Our big lives ask that we do everything all at once, and it requires a tremendous amount of all we've got to answer. May our answer take the form of our highest self. May we remember to check in, to prepare, to allow space to transition. May we create an environment where the seeds of productivity can grow, and where we can enjoy the revelation of our strength.