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Courtesy of Google images

Courtesy of Google images

Today’s yoga session was about being in the present.

So often we are in the future or holding in the past. This was the crux of a passage my instructor read from The Secret of the Yamas by John McAfee.

And it’s too true that one moment we are thinking about what’s next to check off our to-do list, what’s for dinner, or how we need to pick up the dry cleaning next Monday. Then we are thinking about the weekend (wishing we could go back to it), how your sister pissed you off the last time you talked on the phone, and how mad you are you never got that top back that she borrowed.

Our minds are rarely in the present, and that is why I started yoga — to overcome my mental chatter that prevents me from just being.

So I made an honest effort — and the best attempt in my practices thus far — to shut it all out. I didn’t worry about what I’d be doing after yoga, the previous day’s work, or what tomorrow held.

I was present in my practice, and boy did it pay off.

I hold a lot of stress in my shoulders, and thus have some major knots in the neck area. (I constantly wish I had a Swedish masseur with me at all times — giving me neck rubs while I sit at the computer, ooh, sounds so good.)

Today I worked  out my own kinks though with these awesome shoulder stretches.

Standing shoulder stretch

1. Stand in mountain pose: straight spine, feet shoulder with apart, arms down by your side.

2. Clasp your arms behind your back. Keep arms and spine straight. (Keeping your spine straight ensures the breath gets total access to your body.

3. Bend forward, bringing arms over head to your comfortable edge. (Don’t overdo it — especially if you have extremely tight shoulders. If you have shoulder problems, this may not be for you.)

4. Hold this pose and breathe.

5. Come out slowly — the exact same way you came in.

Floor shoulder stretch

1. Lie on the floor in savasana and bring arms out the side to be in a straight line with your shoulders.

2. Roll to your right side, bringing your left arm into your chest, and making sure your right arm stays in line with your right shoulder. Stack your legs on top of each other, keeping your body in a straight line. To go into a deeper shoulder stretch, bend your left leg behind your right knee. To go even deeper into the pose, bend both legs.

3. Hold and breathe.

4. Roll out slowly. Repeat on your left side.

Just by focusing and being completely in the right here, right now, I was able to ward off my shoulder pain and transcend into a more peaceful state.

Yoga high: 3.5