ZEN TIP TUESDAY #11
For ZTT #11 – I extend a big welcome to Marita Dortins. Marita has been a yoga teacher since 2001, encouraging people to breathe, to stand tall, and to live with compassion. Today Marita shares her knowledge on yoga and meditation and specifically on establishing it as a morning routine.
If you’re linking up for ZTT Link-Up #009 – thank you and welcome!
I’ve found over the years that the way I begin my morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. If I get up at the last minute and rush around frantically getting ready to race out the door, my whole day feels chaotic and messy. If I start mindfully and consciously, my day flows with ease.
As a yoga teacher and long-time yoga student, it’s probably no surprise that my morning ritual is a yoga and meditation practice. I honestly believe that everyone would benefit from starting their day with yoga and meditation. It doesn’t need to be complex or advanced. In fact, I think the beauty lies in the simplicity – all I’m really talking about is starting your day with a bit of stillness and a bit of movement.
My recommendations are general and won’t necessarily suit everyone. If you’re unsure I suggest going to some classes and then asking your teacher for a few recommendations for a simple morning home practice, particularly if you’re working with injuries or specific concerns. Practicing 15 minutes of yoga every day is more beneficial than practicing for an hour once or twice a week, so keep it realistic by starting small.
If possible, find a dedicated place in your home for your practice. It can just be a quiet corner if you don’t have the luxury of a whole room you can dedicate to your yoga.
Sit comfortably, and begin to feel your breath. Notice the sensation of the breath in your nostrils. Observe the rise and fall of your belly. After a few breaths, start to label the breath: ‘I am breathing in’ on each inhalation; ‘I am breathing out’ on each exhalation.
Each time you notice a thought has entered your mind, acknowledge it; let it go; and return your attention to your breath. Continue for five minutes to start with. You might find over time that you want to increase the time.
Know that it’s completely normal for your mind to wander – the nature of the mind is to think. Gradually, you’ll learn to notice each thought and release it, without getting caught up in the story that lies behind it.
- After your meditation, practice a gentle seated twist to the right then left, holding for around five breaths on each side.
- Then make your way to a four-point kneeling position for a few rounds of Cat/Cow before moving into Downward Facing Dog.
- Take your time feeling your way into Down Dog, peddling your legs out and wiggling your hips side to side. Then settle into stillness for a few breaths, keeping your knees bent to allow your spine to lengthen.
- Walk your feet to between your hands, roll up through your spine to standing, and practice a few Sun Salutations, moving mindfully and always connecting movement to breath.
- After your Sun Salutations, either lie down for a few moments in Savasana (relaxation) or rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths. Notice the effects of your practice on your body, your mind, and your emotional and energetic states.
As a gymnast from a young age, Marita realised early on that she’s happiest upside-down, and when she found yoga, it was love at first Downward Dog. Nearly 20 years after that first class she still finds joy within each practice.
She began teaching Iyengar-influenced yoga in 2001 and now focuses on guiding the next generation of yoga teachers through teacher training, continuing education and private mentoring.
ZTT LINK-UP #009