I fully noticed what yoga had done to my ability to be present while watching "Rinaldo" at the Portland Opera. While I typically find Handel to be somewhat dull - I've always liked Rinaldo and was looking forward to hearing and seeing Caitlin Mathes in the lead roll. (And to those of you who say "What about Messiah?" I say "I'll sing Hallelujah when it's over"). Now, I am not "hip" or "cool.". I like opera and classical music a lot and take great joy in dancing to Beethoven string quartets. But even so, I always feel distracted at the opera. I'm always worried that I'm going to have a coughing attack in the middle of someone's aria (because that has happened!), or that the person with me isn't enjoying it, and I find myself looking back and forth between the projected translations instead of watching the stage. In short, I can feel very overstimulated. But this time I snuggled into my chair, took some deep breaths, focused in on the stage and stayed there. Presence.
I could feel my breath moving with the phrasing of the music and I think I had a smile on my face most of the time. Finally - I was enjoying it the same way I would when listening to it on a record at home. I was totally immersed and full of joy and finally giving the music the attention it deserved. And giving myself the experience I deserved. I let go of the chatter in my mind, I let go of the distractions around me, I breathed, I relaxed - just like I would in a yoga class.
And this is what's so cool about yoga. If you do it enough and with attention - eventually it spills over into your everyday life. You might find yourself staring at beautiful things for longer, or slowing down to fully take in the smells of a flower (or bakery...) , or more gracefully dealing with your struggles. You might start to embrace slow and quiet over fast and talkative. You might start to give the present your focus and enjoy where you are at a little bit more.
So go forth! Go to a place you love where you sometimes feel distracted and turn it into yoga. Transition into it slowly, breath, and let go of all the distraction around you. Connect with it. Be present. And start to take your yoga off the mat! It will feel oh so good.