Yoga and Zentangle; Two Mindful Activities and a Fusion!
Mindfulness is being in a state of metacognition in a given moment in time. Here, we pause to reflect upon our own thinking and question if it is the kind of thinking that causes us pain or joy. And, if we prefer joy, why not change our thinking on a consistent basis? We have this choice and this power to create our own happiness. To be filled with joy and contentment throughout all the situations in one’s life takes practice. Yoga and Zentangle (the art of drawing “one stroke at a time”) are two wonderful, mindful practices that nurture a focus in the moment at hand, which allows us time to decide what we want to think and make a choice to be positive, accepting, non-judgmental, and happy.
Yoga brings us into the present moment. First, we engage physically by noticing our breath, and then, with a focus on creating shapes and alignment of the body. Next, we deal with the mind as we discover, choose, and think about how deeply we can or will go into a pose, how long it will or can be held, and how comfortable we are within that shape. Then, we deal with our emotions. We may begin to judge ourselves or others by comparison and feel guilty, competitive, prideful, shameful, or masterful, or a wide range of other feelings. We learn how to let those thoughts go. With this focus on self and space through a sequence of poses and flows, we learn to become mindful about choices, moment by moment, within our practice. Yoga draws us into ourselves. While you might workOUT at the gym, with yoga we work IN to create peace and contentment in our lives through a regular practice of being present with conscious choice.
Zentangle also brings us into a flow with the present moment; “one stroke at a time.” By giving the “how do I begin” question an easy answer, the artist (we are all artists, if we choose) just begins by following the ritual of an eight-step process of drawing. With no specific outcome in mind, Zentangle becomes beloved for the process. Interestingly enough, when we do not have the pressure of deciding what creative step to take next, we somehow unleash our own creative ideas as we progress. Drawing repeated lines forms rhythmic patterns in our vision, and we just carry on until a voice inside tells us, “that is enough of that for now.” Somehow, when we just begin without thought of outcome, we continue to draw as if a yoga teacher were leading us through a practice, and we become open to tapping into an energy of creativity that speaks to us as we lose track of time; drawing, shading, and blending one tangle at a time. By the time we believe our tile (drawing surface) is completed, we hold it at arm’s length, have a look, and are often amazed by what we have created. Something new has developed that was a totally unexpected outcome and was the result of being fully engaged in the process of drawing. The focus developed in this creation is akin to meditation, and Zentangle is ripe with metaphors for how to create a life of happiness.
The benefit of mindfulness is an ancient knowledge which is being endorsed by modern science, as well. A recent Harvard Health article claims that mindfulness is a practice which can improve emotional and physical well-being. It says that a key to stress reduction and overall happiness is to become focused and fully present in the moment and to observe it without judgement.
A regular yoga practice is a great entryway into mindfulness. There is a class for everyone; Hatha, Vinyasa, beginners slow flow or Subtle Yoga, Yin Yoga, and many others. While a Vinyasa or Ashtanga class may be a very muscular, active, and “yang” kind of practice, many other classes are taught at a much slower pace, allowing time to deepen into the poses. Yin Yoga is one of the classes where you will be deepening into poses. In a “yin” class, poses are held for 2 to 8 minutes at a time, fully releasing all muscular effort to allow you to relax and target the joints (rather than muscles) with their bones, ligaments, and other connective tissues. Various types of classes can be found in a local yoga studio or online for free! Yoga with Adriene on YouTube was a life-changing program for me as it helped and motivated me to develop a daily home practice. Some yoga teachers also offer private sessions at your home or corporate yoga programs right at your place of work. The key with any kind of practice is consistency and commitment so that you can see the results of yoga yourself. Students who occasionally take advantage of drop-in classes offered by many yoga studios will feel some effects of an hour of practice here and there, but will not see all of the benefits available through a regular - almost daily - practice.
Similarly, you can go online to learn more about Zentangle, as well, at www.Zentangle.com. On the website, you can find a teacher somewhere in the world near you to take a class or have a one-on-one session to get you started in the practice. Zentangle offers workshops, trainings, and seminars world-wide, and you can also see dozens of free lessons online on YouTube!
Okay, what could be better than adding these 2 wonderful new mindful practices to your life to bring about more contentment, joy, and well-being? How about a fusion of the two? I will be unveiling my new YinTangleⒸ class series soon!
Meanwhile, you can get your questions answered by sending me an email of inquiry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
...guiding your life's yoga journey