Want to listen to this week’s blog instead of reading?
It seems like this week is a week to welcome you back. Even if you don’t have children going back to school, the turn of the calendar to September is a shift. It’s a natural time to look at your fall routine. When you look at those blocks of time filling your days, do you see activities that will support your wholebeing?
Meg Townsend, a dear friend and one of our awesome yoga teachers, and I had dinner over the weekend. We shared our latest travel adventures, evolving plans for new classes in the Prasada schedule and ideas for our 2018 Costa Rica retreat (info. coming soon). Both of us spoke about how we continue to be students of this magnificent practice of yoga and yet even as yoga teachers and committed practitioners sometimes we feel a resistance to practicing.
No one knows better than the two of us that an everyday practice is where the magic is. We both have had extended periods where this has happened. And I’ve had times when I was less consistent. I did not completely abandon my yoga practice but used it as a cool down after a workout or skipped a few days here and there.
Honestly, it makes no sense. This is a practice that has saved my life, guided me to the place I am today and taught me so many invaluable lessons. When I am on my mat, it is the place where I am the most gentle and kind with myself. In that safe space of the practice, I feel strong and healthy and can usually forgive and accept the minor aches and injuries, pain and flexibility realities of my body. I have learned that when my body has these foibles that limit what I want it to do these are subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, messages to slow down and pay attention. It always comes back to the reckoning to be here now, with no judgment and full acceptance.
My wondering continued. If I am my best when I am on my mat, why the resistance? Then it dawned on me. A short yoga stretch at the gym is purely physical. It’s a completion of a workout.
When I fully arrive on my mat for a yoga practice I commit to connect to my breath, my body and my life. When I am on my mat, there is nowhere to hide.
Sometimes I have not been a good listener, for others, but also for myself. I have pushed myself to work on projects, take on clients, stay in relationships that did not support my wholebeing. My head said I “should” do these things, for a variety of rational reasons. Or I have had feelings that I had deemed undesirable, sadness or fear, and I wanted to avoid them.
My big aha was that I avoided my mat because I did not want to face the clarity and truth that my yoga practice offers. When I avoided my practice, my mind could structure frameworks that allowed me to blame others for what was not feeling good. As long as I did not relax, pause and look closely, I could keep moving. I would tell myself I did not have time to listen to those internal grievances and take any action. I certainly did not have time just to sit and cry. The truth for me is that on my mat, my heart cannot be silenced.
Eventually, I make my way back to my mat and get past the shame of having been away. Yoga is a very forgiving friend.
I’d remember the comfort of breathing, and moving, and I’d feel ready to be with what was. Sometimes it was the pains of sadness or fear that just needed space. Other times, there were conversations I realized I needed to have or actions that I need to take.
I also see that through my continued practice over the years, now I can recognize the first beep to check in, even if I am not on my mat. Now I hear that internal sound, like a garbage truck beeping when it backs up, and I stop. I give myself permission to look into what my heart is saying, to change my mind, to take a different direction or just honor what I’m feeling.
My yoga practice cultivates the courage to keep trusting myself that I can be with every moment, just as it is.
As I look at my fall routine, it is going to be very different from past years. I just launched my son, my first born, off to college. I’ve been adjusting, though the ruptured appendix he had just shy of a week ago right as school was starting certainly added some adventure to the mix. I can see though that there will be many waves of sadness ahead as I miss him. Wanting to avoid these feelings could, like in the past, derail my daily yoga practice.
My promise to myself is that I will get to my mat every day, as I know that is exactly where I need to be to process this natural and welcomed transition in my life. I know I have the courage to do that. As one of my favorite poems says, I want to meet each feeling at the door and “invite them in…treat each guest honorable…he may be clearing you out for a new delight”.
I’d love to start a bigger conversation with all of you. What helps you with or keeps you from your yoga practice? What kind of intentions do you have for your fall routine? Join our conversation on facebook.