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Back to Basics

NÜ Day: Finding simplicity on your mat

February 18, 2016

I brought myself back to basics in Sanya, Hainan. A salty breeze, my mat and a rusty yoga practice made for an especially peaceful time. Bringing yourself back to basics doesn’t have to indicate failure or mean drastically downsizing your entire life, but simply treating yourself right and remembering the things you love.

Four months isn’t the longest amount of time, but like any amount of time, it can be significant. My move to China was something I’d planned for since my junior year of college. To be honest, however, I didn’t get here the way I expected to — I left four months after my planned departure and only after a long summer of surprises, delays and changes. Arriving here, the disarray only continued. My sense of adventure carried me high in the beginning, but expectations began to falter, work had its complications and, of course, longing for my family and friends back home settled deep into my heart. These four months have been significant so far for many reasons. Adventures and misadventures alike (as well as the bullet trains) have twirled me around this modern-day iteration of one of the world’s most ancient nations and I’ve learned just as much about myself as I have about this land of a billion people and of a billion smells, tastes and colors. It’s chaotic for sure, but with a little space for myself and some time, I’m learning – as I do time and time again – that I can always come back to basics on my mat.

Whatever being centered means to you — clarity of mind, peace with your present situation, a nice session of deep breathing and deep stretching — know that you can create it and you can find it. It might not always seem that way, you might be so stressed at work that you can’t see past the next hour or you could be crying on the phone with your mom during a particularly terrible sickness or across the ocean from everyone you love and realizing that your heart is still back home, but that’s okay too. Every person is different, but even tantrums and negativity can all be a part of the process. Just keep breathing and know you can take it day by day. Eventually an hour or a moment or a morning will come where you feel just a little better and just a little more ready to feel okay.

Remember: time and space, day by day.

Yoga is a great re-centering tool because the practice’s primary focus is not merely “letting go”, but is rather centered around leading you to the letting go (of worries, of stress, of anger) by connecting your breath to your movement. There are different forms of yoga and its variety can suit different people with different needs. Personally, for going back to basics or re-centering or simple self-calming purposes, I recommend two ideas:

A beginner’s vinyasa flow,herehere, and here (15, 20 and 30 minutes, respectively; Yoga by Candace is a great resource for all types of yoga, especially beginner and power flows)

Why? A simple, unadorned flow will allow you to really concentrate on linking your breath to movement
Simplicity and repetition are sometimes the key to powerful, meditative movements

Yin Yoga, found here, here and here (30, 30 and 45 minutes, respectively)

Why? Yin is a slow paced style of yoga with poses that are held for longer periods of time. Yin’s slowness and deepness can complement the more hectic parts of your day (as well as a more vigorous yoga or exercise routine) and serve as a wonderfully therapeutic time to slow down, get sleepy and let go of outside difficulties.

Definitely check out the above videos and add them to your playlists or remember parts and bits that you especially love that you can integrate into your own, organic re-centering routine!

Easy days below!
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