Creating a daily practice of anything can feel like climbing a mountain uphill both ways in a thunderstorm on an empty stomach. Likely, your days already feel too crowded for one long breath, let alone adding an extra 10 or 15 minutes for contorting yourself into a pretzel on an overpriced sticky mat by your dying fern in the corner of your living room at some ungodly hour, which is the only time you can possibly squeeze in. Who would want to do this? It sounds and feels like a punishment. Like a should instead of a relief.
Start with a Vision
If you are thinking you should practice yoga, you'll always feel like you are pushing and pulling your kicking and screaming self into something you really don't want to do. Yuck.
It might be more helpful to start with a vision of what you want your life to feel like versus what it feels like right now. We're not talking about picturing doing a wheel pose ten hours a day on a warm Tahitian beach or on a mountain peak in your perfectly moulded yoga pants. We might be talking about "I want to find an approach to back pain that works," or "I want to feel connected to myself and others," or "I want to know what I'm feeling," or "I just want ten minutes to unwind everyday." When you think of your vision, what does it feel like in your body? Does it feel soft? Lighter? Note what this feels like, and let this feeling be your motivator and guide. If a step you take doesn't make you feel your are moving towards your vision, reconsider your approach.
Make it Easy
To start a yoga practice, you don't even need to set aside an extra 10 minutes of your day if it feels too overwhelming. You don't even need a mat. Why not take a different approach -- instead of cramming more in, why not find a way to make what you are already doing to feel softer and easier?
Here are a few simple ways you can think about beginning to add yoga into your life (but you only have to pick one, you don't have to do all the yoga all right now):
- Do you eat? Fantastic! Try turning off your phone, putting down your book or newspaper, and muting the podcast. Eat slowly. Savour the texture and taste of each bite. Breathe in and out between bites. Finish each breath. Try eating this way once a day for a week or two and make a note of any differences this practice makes in your life.
- Do you breathe? Fantastic! Can you practice feeling your breathe as it expands into your side and back ribs every time you get in a car? Or set a timer on your phone to buzz every hour. Use that reminder to take 10 breaths into your back and side ribs. Practice this for a week or two and make a note of any differences this practice makes in your life.
- Do you stand or sit? Great! If you find yourself making dinner with fifty toddlers clinging to your legs, or trying to get through a work Skype call without hyperventilating, root down through your feet. Imagine them as tree roots anchoring you down. Then breathe up all the nutrients the tree roots are gathering. Soften through the front and back of your neck, and breathe into your side and back ribs. Breathe like this for 10 or so breaths. Try to do this at least once a day. Make a note of any changes after a week or two.
- Do you like to rest? You're in the right place. At any point in the day, especially just before bed, find a pillow and a wall. Slide your hips right to the wall, slide the pillow under your hips, and swing your legs up the wall. Let your arms open a bit away from your body, turn your palms up, and breathe. Place a rolled up blanket under your neck if it feels strained.
Chances are you won't feel some mystical or magical transformation now (or maybe ever). That's ok. Just keep finding those little moments every day to breathe into and through. Pay attention to how this feels in your body. That's all you have to do for now.
Let Me Know
If you experiment with any of the suggestions above, let me know how you fare either in the comments or via email.
Until next week,