On quieting your mind



Adho Mukha Svanasana.

No, I have not lost my mind and starting speaking in tongues. Those are the sanskrit names of some yoga poses I have had to learn the last couple of weeks. (Low pushup, warrior, and downward facing dog, if you’re curious). I’ve been taking some training sessions so that I can teach yoga classes, and really so I can learn all the things I never bothered to learn about the poses. Teaching yoga one of those things I always thought was for people who were a lot fitter than me, or that it was somehow just not something I could do. But here I am doing it. Teaching Nia definitely gave me the confidence to take yoga to the next level.

So a couple nights a week I gather with an amazing group of people and we practice our sanskrit names and we adjust each other in poses and we stumble through teaching vinyasas. But the first thing we do at every class is meditate. Just a few minutes of trying to quiet our minds so we can focus on this one task. It’s amazing how hard it is to do that. I find myself trying not to multitask when I’m at home because I realize that I don’t remember how to do just one thing at a time anymore. No wonder I always leave my coffee in the microwave or forget random little things that cause me to slap my forehead later.

I’ve found that when we do our meditation it always goes the same way for me. The first couple of minutes my mind is running a constant stream of lists and conversations, and then all of the sudden it’s like I snap out of it and realize I’ve been talking in my head all this time. And then slowly I start to catch the thoughts and dismiss them, and at some point, my head tilts back and my mind really does start to turn off. Then it’s just me and my breath, in and out, in and out. It’s the most wonderful feeling. Last class we started this round of chanting Oms that was really lovely. Some people probably think we’re crazy and weird, but I think it’s crazy and weird how we don’t know how to shut everything off.

Anyway, it’s also been great learning a little more about what yoga is, beyond just the poses. There’s a great quote by B.K.S. Iyengar, where he says, “Yoga is the method by which the restless mind is calmed and the energy directed into constructive channels.” I like to think of it that way.

Here’s what we’ve been reading, and I can highly recommend these books for interested yogis:

“Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar. It’s sometimes called the yoga bible because it has a really extensive list of poses and photos.

“Journey Into Power” by Baron Baptiste. This one also has great color photos, but I loved the text just as much.

I would love to hear any other recommendations of books or even trainings you’ve attended. Or give me the name of your favorite pose. In sanskrit. 🙂


  1. 1

    Julie says

    I'm so excited about your yoga teacher training! How soon do you get to start teaching so I can come to one of your classes?

    I have the Baptiste book–Ann at Firehouse recommended it to me right after I got hooked and was devastated I had to go home for a summer and be without yoga. I'll have to revisit it …

  2. 2

    satakieli says

    Just found your blog today and I really enjoyed reading, I've added you to my follow list!

    Yoga is one of those thing I keep telling myself to get back into but always find an excuse to not start, like a lot of people I'm sure. It would go perfectly with the mindfullness meditation I keep telling myself I need to put aside more time for…

  3. 3

    (In)Sanity Gal says

    What a wonderful post! I am constantly working to get more yoga into my life and hope to eventually teach (fingers crossed). For me, law school has been the ultimate bad-habit-former in terms of multi-tasking, and I have been working both with my meditation group and on my own to try to focus on quieting my mind and focusing on the thing at hand. Of course, I must caveat that all by saying that I'm commenting on this post while I'm in class. So clearly I still have some practicing to do!