Street Smart Chicago

Change Your Life: Yoga

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Wake up and take a deep breath. Open your eyes and be thankful for the first thing you see and the first thought you think. Exhale completely empty, and BE completely empty; be grateful you made it through the night. Stretch your arms up and your legs down and feel your whole body to its entirety. All your muscles, bones, cricks, hairs, scrapes, scars, freckles and skin are perfect today. You haven’t even gotten out of bed yet! Yippie! The day has arrived! Another deep deep deep inhale through your nose, see your nostrils flare as you try to take in as much air through those little holes as you can to fill up your wonderful oxygen-accepting filters. How magical that you can breathe this abundance of energy and oxygen just by being alive.

Alright, get out of bed. Take your first step. Huh, you’ve already got the memory in your muscles to hold yourself up. Funny, you didn’t even think about it, and here you are standing with your feet on the floor, your hips balancing in place, and your shoulders… where are your shoulders? Pull them down and back and open your chest! You have already accomplished so much today, so go ahead and present your proud open chest. Feel how big you are! 

Just reading this, don’t you feel powerful? Don’t you feel like you’ve done something worth sharing? So many of us fall out of bed, fumble to the shower, douse our nervous system with as much caffeine as we can, and rush out the door to hurry up and wait.

I’d much rather feel accomplished. It feels great to be alive! That’s what I’ve learned in the practice of yoga. I’ve learned to laugh at the incredible—yet seemingly simple—accomplishments of being alive. Being a human being. Having toes that can spread wide and grip into the floor like an animal. Muscles that can soak into bones. Bones that can soften and relax. Visualizations that can melt my existence. Take another deep breath and hold it in, feel all that energy sweeping through your inner ecosystem and imagine everything that makes you happy, filling every cell in your body with that happiness, and then feel as you exhale, your whole body radiating out this abundance of happiness. That’s Love. That’s the practice of yoga and the magic of existence.  (Melanie C. Freeman)

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