Wednesday, November 21, 2012

160/365: When in Doubt, Take Child's Pose

Today I made:

friends with my yoga mat...

I am a yoga class drop out. Some time this past summer I got a great Groupon deal for twenty sessions of yoga at a studio bike-riding distance from my house. I was thrilled at the thought of taking my inconsistent living room yoga practice into a real studio, getting some guidance and making it a regular habit.

I have since attended one session. One!!

That's just embarrassing. It's not even a fair go, I realize. "Beginner's" yoga beat my butt and then I made excuse after excuse. My Groupon expires in a month and I'm trying to figure out how to convince my busy mind to buy into what my spirit knows is good for me. Words of wisdom and experience are welcome.

From the little I've done at home over the past few years, I've gotten a glimpse of yoga as a spiritual practice and tool for observation. I often find myself holding my breath and clenching my jaw through the poses. It's ridiculous how much my mind wanders even when I try to focus on my breathing. I know it's called a "practice" for a reason. It's not going to be peaceful and easy at first. It takes time and commitment to integrate into one's lifestyle. The thing is, I know it would help me immensely with managing stress, relieving tension, being more present and quieting my mind to allow more positive things to come through, if I practiced regularly. I fully believe in all the benefits, but I haven't found a way to make it a priority in my life.

This evening, after sending my husband off to his man cave, I put in the Beginner's Vinyasa Flow DVD and unrolled my mat. Banjo always sees this as an invitation to play, so he promptly retrieved his chew toy. (It's hard to breathe through downward facing dog pose while receiving doggy kisses.) Letting my mind do it's thing, I found myself thinking about what a friend said to me about making yoga my own practice. I thought about my favorite poses: child's pose, hero's pose and shavasana, the final pose. These are my happy resting poses and they don't require much effort beyond lying still. They are the easiest for me to breathe through and quiet my mind during. (I suspect the lack of both grunting and required use of muscle may have something to do with it.) Then on an inhale, during one of my less favorite poses, I had an epiphany. If I want to find a way to make yoga work for me as my own practice, so I can integrate it into my daily life, maybe I simply need to commit to doing my three favorite poses each day! You can bet I will look forward to yoga while sitting in traffic on my way home from work. Maybe it will even get me out of bed a few minutes early each morning. I'm hoping it will lead to a more consistent practice, and yes, an appreciation of other poses. For now though, I will rest in child's pose, observe the workings of my monkey mind and learn to breathe like my life depends on it.

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