Being Present on Your Big Day

Hey out there, newly engaged ladies! Congratulations! If you’re like most brides-to-be, you’re probably already thinking about the things that you need to do before the big day. Amid all the choices you’re making about flowers, venue, dress, my guess is that you’re thinking about some personal remodeling as well.  You’d like to lose a few pounds. And you definitely want to tone up those arms.  Tighten the belly. Actually, you’d be happier with slimmer thighs, even though no one will see them in that big puffy dress.
Here’s the capital-t Truth about your wedding day — it goes by so fast. In the blink of an eye, all those things that you’ve planned for, the cultivated choices, the planned moments will be suddenly in the past. And if you don’t pay special attention, if you have too many things that you are worried about happening at the perfect moment, you’ll miss it.
Yoga can be your best ally for wedding season, but not for your biceps, bum, or thighs. Maybe not for any reason that you are currently considering. Yoga is a gift of presence, and one that you can have for longer than just one day.
And anyway, when you’re 80 and looking back on this day, you won’t wish you spent more time in the gym. You will cherish the photographs and memories made with your loved ones. You will wish that you could climb back into these moments and spend time with these people once again. You will look back at pictures of your body as it is at this very moment and only see how beautiful you are.
Why wait for time to make us wise and content?
Yoga helps with a little thing called mindfulness. It’s something we practice every time we come to our mat, and it’s something that even a very beginner can try. Maybe you’ve been going to yoga classes but think you haven’t been giving mindfulness meditation a try. But you have. When your teacher asks you to close your eyes and notice, that’s mindfulness. When you realize that you’re clenching your jaw, release it, and feel the tension melt away through your neck and shoulders, that’s practicing mindfulness. When you find that you’re holding your breath in a pose instead of breathing easily and then adjust, that’s practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness is all about staying in the present moment, however boring or uncomfortable, and being totally and fully aware. Even if you’ve never done yoga before, you can do it right now. Close your eyes and ask yourself, how do I feel today? And simply notice what comes up. It may be words, it may be feelings or emotions. You may notice your back twinge in response. Don’t get too wrapped up in the answer. The answer doesn’t matter. The noticing is what matters. Continue to sit like this for a few breaths and keep asking, keep noticing. How do I feel today?
Over time, a mindfulness practice helps us to realize how little most of the things we think about matter. That really, we’re okay just as we are. We’re perfectly imperfect, just like every other human being on the planet. And when we notice and accept the imperfections in ourselves, it’s so much easier to accept them in other people.
As you prepare for wedding season, your own or another’s, considering adding yoga to your preparation list. Not for your arms or your core, but for your mind and the rest of your life. So when that thing goes wrong on the big day (there’s always something), you take your deep breath and notice. That you are surrounded by loved ones. How concerned everyone is in making this special. How love and community and connection are what have brought you all together on this day. Amid all the nerves and anticipation, you will find peace and gratitude. And a smile.
Cherish this day, dear one. May you find happiness in the here and now.

Ready to give yoga and mindfulness a try? Look for mindful classes at a local studio. At the Yoga Bar, for example, any of our Gentle, Mindful Flow or Restorative classes will also have a deep focus on mindfulness. Look for classes with similar names at other studios.
You can try out seated meditation on your own with one of the recommended apps below. All are free to download and have beginner sequences of varying lengths. Delving deeper requires a paid subscription.
Calm for iPhone and Android
Take a Break for iPhone and Android
Headspace for iPhone and Android

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