Every time you move, you are massaging your belly. No matter whether you walk, run, do yoga, swim, or dance, you are massaging your belly. Anything that requires you to focus on your body and use alternate movements of the shoulders and hips will be help you feel better. That is the best massage there is: moving the body.
The beauty of yoga is the stretch. It creates space and helps settle things back into place. That is why yoga helps you feel so balanced. You are actually making up for all those crazy life moments when you are rushing to work, rushing to buy groceries, pick up your kids, or just trying to meet a deadline. If you don’t take time out, your stomach would always feel like it was in your throat, because stress affects the stomach first, and then the rest of your organs.
The stretch is the first step. But….there are two more steps.
- Stop thinking too much
- Move and be inside your body
Stopping the mind by focusing on holding a pose (even if it is difficult) will help you switch to body consciousness. Then the rest periods help you assimilate the changes in your nervous system, circulation, and muscles. That is the when the real work of yoga happens, and to make it happen, you have to learn how not to control anymore. You actually need to control less to have more.
Our modern life gets mixed up with yoga in an unfortunate pattern: we think if we stretch more, we will get better. The meaning of yoga is yoking the mind to the body, as if you were yoking an ox to the plow.
The mind obsesses and wanders, gets lost, and then comes back. This is OK, this is the nature of mind.
Yoga is a way to get your mind more focused faster because you are not just exercising, you are letting go to stay in a pose, letting go at the end of the pose, and then at the end of the session, letting go of the practice, the day, and all your problems. For one moment in time, you forget time, and live in your body because you no longer feel driven by the mind. They are one.