Yesterday I took a yoga class and after it was over the instructor and I were talking with one of the other Yoginis about plank pose. (For those who aren’t Yogis or Yoginis out there, plank is like an upper push-up position with a little narrower hand positioning. It takes lots of upper body and core strength to hold and then lower down to the floor.) The instructor told the woman she needed to modify and put her knees down while in plank and lowering. The Yogini responded that she thought that was cheating.
I am sure there are many practicing Yoginis who think and feel that way. While in reality, for those who aren’t yet strong enough to lower down in plank with their knees off the ground, by putting their knees down, they are actually upholding the integrity of the pose. By doing this, they will see strength gains much faster than continuing to do the pose the way they have been. As I rode home, I was thinking about this conversation and decided this topic would be the theme of the yoga class I will be teaching this afternoon.
When practicing yoga, posing with integrity means honoring your body in that moment while also keeping the alignment,dynamic action, energy flow, and feeling state of the posture. What we practice and learn on our yoga mats can almost always be translated to our lives off the mat.
Living with integrity involves making choices on a daily basis that align with our essential core values. When a person doesn’t know his or her essential core values, it becomes almost impossible to live a life of integrity. In a world where the messages we are sent about what to value can be incredibly distorted, it can become easy to lose touch with that which we value most.
So, I’d invite you today to make a list of your values. Some examples might include connection to others, time, beauty, love, spirituality, transformation, inspiration, creativity, independence, abundance, health, wellness, adventure, learning, challenge, peace, joy…you get the idea. Go ahead. Stop reading now, put pen to paper and just brainstorm a big list of all your values.
Once you have that list, circle the top 10 values most important to you at this time in your life. Once you have that completed, star five of those values that are your essential core values at this time. Go ahead–commit to five of them. Don’t rely too much on your head, instead tune in to your Inner Spark. Choose the values that make your heart sing, that make your inner Spark brighten, that make you feel energized. Don’t be choosing values by “shoulding yourself” or thinking about what others would want you to choose. Choose with integrity. Be completely honest with yourself.
Now, as you go through your day and the rest of this week, make choices that will allow you to align your life more with your values. Start small and no judgement. If one of your values is creativity, choose to begin a creative project rather than watch t.v. or surf on the internet. If one of your essential core values is peace, begin to choose practices such as meditation and yoga that will help you cultivate an inner state of peace in life. We always have choice, and if we choose to align our daily lives with our values, we will start to feel our energy levels sky-rocket and the joy factor in our lives rise high. When you are living from a space of integrity, you will FEEL good.
So, how can you begin today to live and pose (for all you Yogis and Yoginis out there) with more integrity? There’s no better time to begin than right NOW.
Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values. ~Ayn Rand
For those who would like to practice posing with integrity, I’ll meet you on the mat at Yoga Sol 4:15 p.m. today.
Leslie ~Sparkling Yogini