I am strolling through the local grocery store after gorging myself with a bag of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (which I do not recommend by the way) and I run into a friend who I have not seen in quite a few years. Life has changed a ton for both of us. We both have made significant changes to our priorities and life choices but when I instantly see her I revert back to my old self. Has that ever happened to you? I immediately start nitpicking myself apart in my mind. I was thinking she probably can see this huge bulge in my belly from the Reeses I just demolished, my eyebrows are out of control and need to be weed wacked, I have algae stuck in my teeth from swimming in the lake and I am using this new fish perfume. My mind is so focused on everything that is wrong with me that I am halfway listening to her amazing journey she is on. I could have used her story to inspire others or for self-improvement but instead I become very un-attentive and unfocused. I leave our conversation very discouraged and upset with myself and go eat another bag of Reeses. Ok, just kidding about the bag of Reeses but sometime it is easy to depend on food to find some comfort but not this time. Instead, I jump in the car and start a yoga practice.  

Yes, yoga in my car. Warrior I was a little difficult but the rest was fairly efficient. Ok, just kidding again. I practiced yoga and did zero yoga poses (asanas). Did you know you can do yoga and not hold one pose? I never understood why anyone would ever want to do that because the physical practice was the only reason why I started practicing yoga. But my practice has been developing and growing and I thought I had a grasp on it until that day. I fell out of my practice. When you become more attentive you practice yoga. I clearly was un-attentive, rude, and selfish. Yoga can be practiced 24 hours a day if you can stay attentive.

Every day we have experiences and perceptions. Think about that; experiences and perceptions. I spent my time perceiving that my friend was judging my appearance but in reality I missed an opportunity for an amazing experience. One of the goals of Pantajali (the father of modern yoga), is sustainable attention, focus, clarity and meditation. Sounds pretty simple, huh? But focus is not in our control.

We are passengers in our own system. An example of this is when we get a cut on our body. How do we physically heal a wound? We do not. It heals on its own because our bodies are pretty spectacular. We can put items on our wound to help heal or keep it clean but we do nothing physically to heal our body. We are passengers in our own system. How our body functions is not in our control.

We DO have an influence but no control. Our system is composed of 6 dimensions…

1. Body

2. Breath

3. Thoughts

4. Behavior

5. Emotions

6. Spirit

When we can align these six dimensions we can find peace. Doesn’t that sound glorious? Through a consistent and committed yoga practice we can work on this alignment and balance. Yoga is a set of techniques which influences the way we feel. What is currently happening in our system is a result to the experiences we have been having. Yoga is an intentionally created experience and helps direct our attention to a designated place.

When our system is out of balance it brings us down emotionally. A result of emotional distress is crying, anger, anxiety, stress etc. When our emotions are in check we find peace. Can you see why it would be important to align the 6 dimensions of our system? Below are some examples of what could happen if a dimension is out of balance and what happens when it is in balance.

1a. Body out of balance- lack of sleep, health issues, rashes, fatigue, weight gain, food dependencies

1b. Body in balance- Everything starts working properly, limited physical ailments

2a. Breath out of balance-short, choppy and shallow breaths

2b. Breath in balance-long, calm, even and deep

3a. Thoughts out of balance-negative thoughts, distractions, self-doubt, fear,

3b. Thoughts in balance-positive, hopeful, motivated, happy, clarity   

4a. Behavior out of balance-short tempered, bad choices, self-sabotage, disrespect others, procrastinate

4b. Behavior in balance-proactive, execute plans, accomplish goals, become selfless

5a. Emotions out of balance-cry, yell, anxious, nauseous

5b. Emotions in balance-we are at peace

6a. Spirit out of balance-values become distorted and blurred, ego takes over

6b. Spirit in balance-priorities become clear, life becomes easier, peace and happiness

In our yoga practice we want to mimic functions our body does when it is balanced. This is the context of yoga. At the end of yoga we should be calm, peaceful, hopeful and our mind attentive. 


Breath is our barometer to check in with what our system is doing. If we are breathing quick and choppy then we are stressed, anxious, angry, or out of balance. Yoga is about breathing, attention and one focus. A breathing technique we use in our yoga class is Ujjai. Ujjai is used to make our breath tangible so you can feel it. It also creates one focus and allows for slow and controlled breathing. Ujjai allows us to become intimate with our breath and present in the moment. When we allow ourselves to be more present we tend to have more experiences rather than perceptions. I missed out on something that could have been a really great experience because I was living a life of perception. I was completely off balanced. Sometimes all we need to do is sit back and breathe, clear our minds and get back to the basics of life.




Kim Damm