Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time to Re-Energize My Yoga Practice

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge yoga fan.  Unfortunately, I let life derail my practice sometimes.  I've been doing yoga for almost ten years but I've had more than one multi-month gap in my practice and that definitely does not help me continue my growth as a yoga practitioner.  The last few years I've been solidly on track going to at least three classes a week and during the summer five to six classes a week.  Then, I recently had a furbaby emergency that ended up taking my attention off of myself for about two months.  Instead of four classes a week I made it to four classes in two months! I was miserable mentally and physically and my stress level was through the roof.

Now, I'm back to a normal routine and am able to make it to all of my classes and my mental state has greatly improved.  Yoga is my stress management miracle.  I do a pretty good job of managing it even without making it to yoga, but my practice keeps me centered and puts everything into perspective in a way that nothing else I've tried can.  So, now that I'm back to my classes I'm in much better spirits.  It doesn't hurt that my kitty situation has greatly improved, too. As far as my physical abilities, luckily I have been doing yoga long enough that I have muscle memory that keeps me from losing too much ground when I miss classes.

Yes, I realize I can do yoga at home.  I've never been a fan of home practice.  I always have a lot to do when I'm home and once that's done I take advantage of some downtime with a book or a DVR'd TV show.  A bigger reason I don't do yoga at home is my two kitties.  It's not fun doing downward facing dog with a kitty tail in your face.  Those have always been my excuses.  Stuff to do and cats in the way.  It's all nonsense.  I realized that today.  I've been making excuses that are just stupid.  Certainly I can find some time in my evening schedule or before work to do a little yoga and I have a basement with a door so I could do yoga down there.

So why after nearly 8 years in this house have I just now realized that my basement would be a good place for yoga?  I dunno.  I think it's because my friend changed her Facebook profile photo to a picture of her doing Tittibhasana or Firefly Pose and I got extremely jealous.  I'll link to the Yoga Journal photo of this pose rather than showing you her picture for privacy's sake. :)

Tittbhasana - photo from Yoga Journal
I don't have the core or arm strength to do this.  Not even close.  My friend recently started taking yoga teacher certification classes and other advanced classes to enhance her practice and it's worked miracles.  But she says the biggest difference has been adding a self practice.  So, it got me thinking.  What if I did more than my mixed level classes at the gym and the occasional studio class?  What if I really pushed myself to my edge.  The classes at the gym are mixed level, so we don't really go into many of the intensive advanced poses and we don't do many inversions.  I've been to a few workshops and yoga festivals and I never feel limited to the point where I can't keep up, but if ever inversions come up I shy away.  I need to fix this.  This brings me to my new yoga goal.

Today, I promise myself that I will practice for at least 20 minutes per day, but preferably an hour per day.  If I don't have a class, I'll do it at home.  

I want to push myself to the edges of my ability and comfort zone so that I can get into poses that currently seem impossible.  Notice I didn't say that I'm going to start taking yoga teacher training classes.  I'm too selfish for that.  My favorite instructor and friend has told me how becoming a teacher has limited her personal practice and I'm too selfish to let that happen.  Maybe someday when I've reached some personal yoga goals I'll have an awakening of my selfless side and I'll do the training.  But for now, yoga is the one thing that's all mine.  I often put everyone else ahead of myself and let my needs fall to the back.  With yoga, I'm able to tune out the rest of the world and just focus on myself.  I'm not ready to let others in right now.  Maybe someday!

Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble on about this.  I figured if I didn't put it in writing I wouldn't stick to it.  So there it is.  Yoga every day.  I have some followup goals to this one, but I'll get into this routine for a few months first before I start adding on.  I'm hoping I start seeing some great growth in my practice as a result of dedicating extra time and trying poses I don't get to do in class.  At the very least I'll have at least 20 minutes per day where I can tune out the world and any stress in my life and just breathe.  In fact, just taking that time to breathe and let it all go is reason enough to get on the mat every day.

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