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  • Writer's pictureGayle Fleming

Yoga: The Art of Just Being (Part 1)

We are a society and a culture of doers and strivers. We are taught from an early age that to be doing is to be productive. “Idleness is the Devil’s handiwork,” we are admonished. Sometimes this strategy works. We work hard in school, get good grades, and get into a good college—maybe even get a scholarship. We do the right internships, make the right connections, and get what we and others think is a “good job.” So, we begin to believe that this is how it’s done. This is how life works, focus on a goal, plan everything out and we are the masters of our destiny. Until we aren’t. What sometimes results from all this striving and planning and doing is burnout. And if not burnout, a sense of numbness and ritualistic doing. The stress of doing can be acute and damaging to our overall health.

When students come to a yoga class, they often bring the habit of striving and doing with them. Students with some experience, may come with a goal of perfecting certain asanas so they look as much like the poses they see in a yoga book or magazine asthe can. If they are new to yoga, they try hard to mimic the teacher even if their bodies aren’t ready for some of the extended stretching and strengthening poses.

Unfortunately, a lot of what is being taught in yoga classes feeds into the doing, striving, competing mindset that is how many people live their daily lives. It isn’t supposed to be that way. Yoga is the perfect catalyst for learning how to “just be and let go of the habitual need to “do”. Yoga is meant to connect us to a calmer inner Self—our true selves. So exactly how does one shift out of doing mode to being mode? It starts by getting out of your head and into your body and breath awareness.

Try this:

Lie on the floor with your arms at your side and with your palms facing up. Notice how your body feels. Try not to think about how your body feels, but feel how your body feels. Notice any sensations of tension or tightness in your shoulders, your belly, your face, etc., and relax any areas of tension that you feel.

Now notice your breath—your inhalation and your exhalation. Are you breathing mostly from your chest or your belly? Are you breathing quickly or slowly, shallowly or deeply? If you notice that you are breathing quickly and shallowly, try to deepen your breathing and slow it down by starting your inhalation in your belly, letting your belly expand like a balloon, and then try to exhale slowly. Feel your belly deflate like a balloon. Make your exhalation a little longer than your inhalation.

Now use these nice full breaths to let go and relax. When you slow your breathing down and deepen it, it sends a powerful message to your sympathetic nervous system that it can let go, relax, and just be. Try this for 10 or 15 minutes in the evening before you go to bed.


If lying on the floor is uncomfortable for your lower back take a blanket or a beach towel and roll it into a tube and place it under your knees. Or do this with your knees bent and feet on the floor hip distance apart. Let your knees come together.


Light a candle. Put on some soothing music. Diffuse some essential oils. Create a mood condusive to doing nothing.

Feel free to email me with questions at


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