Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect

That's something we say to kids at Karma Kids if there's ever anxiety or jealousy about not being able to do a pose as well as they'd like to, or one they "can't" do.  Honestly - I think we adults need to hear that far more often than the kids!

I feel like this is my first week back after The Cold That Would Not End, and I've been feeling some stress and pressure about being back in the game.  Momentum is a powerful thing, and I've been feeling very much like mine went missing at Thanksgiving and is stubbornly keeping itself from being dredged back up.  I've been teaching a lot at the Matrix gym by my apartment, I had a challenging but very fun class at Karma Kids, and I'm setting up as many Thai Yoga Massages as my calendar can handle.  The momentum is coming back, slowly but surely, along with my confidence.

One of my favorite teachers in the world, Joe Somodi, started his class yesterday by talking about this time of year.  The first biting freeze of winter, the beginning of all manner of holiday madness, and the speeding rush to the end of the year.  For me, this time of year (which also happens to include my and my boyfriends' birthdays - the 13th and 15th) causes absolute mental chaos.  So many parties and appointments to keep track of, so many cards to write, presents to get, travel plans to finalize.  Pair that with the fact that I'm physically just starting to settle back into my normal strength and stamina, and I've been feeling a little bit like a crazy person this week.

Normally in Joe's Tuesday class, I'm his assistant.  I get to go around the room and assist all the students in various postures as he teaches.  Last night, however, there were only a few of us and he looked over at me and asked if I wanted to practice.  He must have sensed how badly I needed it, and I said yes!

He offered a class of forward folds and twists - designed to energetically to ground the body and bring the mind into a one pointed focus.  It was slow, deliberate, low-key, and absolutely beautiful.  It was just what I needed and suddenly I felt like a yogi again!  I was so down on myself this week for getting stressed, but the de-stresser I needed was always right there in my breath and my body - and it always is.

The practice is everything.  Theory and pontificating (and even writing) will take you only so far, and the amazing feeling you get from a class probably isn't enough to keep you grounded and peaceful for the whole rest of the week.  Practice as much as you can, even if it's just 3 minutes in child's pose.  Practice doesn't mean breaking a sweat or mean that you have to make it last for a long time.  Grab what you can, when you can.  If it's a tough day and you just don't feel it - give yourself a break.  If you're in a class and a challenging pose you've recently mastered is suddenly out of your reach for some reason, don't sweat it.  It's a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect.  Our minds and bodies go through so many spectacular changes during a day, a week, a month, a year.  You will never have the same mind and body in one moment as you will the next moment.  We're in a constant state of change.

So off the mat, what does this mean?  Take a deep breath before getting stressed about December and all its joys and parties and time with old friends and family.  Give yourself a break if you're just too tired to go to one more holiday party, and kick back and take care of yourself instead.

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