Reflections from halfway through a 30 Day Yoga Challenge.
I’m an intermediate level yoga woman.
I’ve practiced regularly, 3-4 times a week, for several years now and I’ve done yoga off and on for decades.
I can tell you that my 55 year old body doesn’t have the same flexibility that my 35 year old body did and that’s okay.
Overall, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.
I can also tell you I now see I‘ve been choosing yoga classes that I’m comfortable with rather than ones that challenge me.
This morning’s class was 55 minutes of extreme attention to the details of poses.
We moved slowly and attentively through familiar poses.
The instructor reminded us along the way of things like:
“Tilt your pubic bone down slightly and pull your navel to your spine to give more support to your low back”.
“When you stand in Warrior Two, be sure the outside of your back foot is anchored down to the mat.”
“Remember to breathe as you hold the pose”.
You may wonder who’d forget to breathe but it’s surprisingly common to hold your breath as you concentrate.
Tiny reminders, little adjustments here and there.
Tweaks to poses that are foundational to any yoga practice.
My mind raced ahead because I KNOW how to do Downward Dog.
I’ve done it a gazillion times.
I stayed with the instructor for what I thought was 25 minutes,
moving at her thorough snail pace.
I paused the video and was shocked to find I was wrong.
I’m only 7 minutes and 38 seconds in.
AAHHHHCCCKKK!!!! I screamed in my head.
Deep breath in, frustrated sigh out.
I resumed the video and huffily moved at her pace for all of 57 seconds. Then I pushed into the pose and waited for her to catch up to me.
As I waited in triangle pose, my coach and yogi experience started talking to me.
Hey, is this just my brain working desperately to keep me in a HABIT?
Brains like habits and routines because it keeps us EFFICIENT, SAFE and COMFORTABLE.
What if there’s something to gain by doing this super-slow, detail-oriented practice?
How can I settle my brain down to follow these instructions?
Here’s what I did next:
I took a deep breath and told myself, “I know I’m used to moving faster but, for today, I am willing to slow down in this practice.”
As I continued I found that sometimes I needed to tell myself “for the next 60 SECONDS, I am willing to slow down”.
Instead of focusing on my frustration, I tuned into the instructor’s voice AND what was happening in my own body.
When I felt/heard my desire to move more quickly, I gave that thought a little head nod of “I see you. It’s okay. We’re doing it differently for now.”
Then I paid attention to what was happening in my body.
I was actually MINDFUL which is what a yoga practice is all about. Go figure.
I had fallen into the trap of focusing on what I was DOING more than what I was BEING.
Of wanting to check yoga off my list and move on to my next project instead of focusing my mind and body together for my practice.
We do this in our regular lives.
Become comfortable in our routines whether they’re serving us or not,
impatient when things don’t happen as we think they should,
frustrated that we don’t seem to be able to get out of a rut.
Slowing down can benefit us in the moment AND later.
Muscles ‘remember’ the best way to move.
Brains stretch to build new pathways.
Hearts open to experience feelings in a different way.
Take a moment during your day to see where you can slow down and mind a little thing or two.
Life coaching tips from Tracey at tbrowning.