Over the past several weeks, I've been searching for (and some days admittedly, not finding…) my inner athlete. I've been doing intense cycling workouts, twice weekly resistance training and more recently, taking tennis lessons. I also practice yoga every day. It's a lot. By necessity, my self-guided home yoga practice has been gradually transforming into a practice that helps me feel better after all that work.
If I do a very short yoga practice immediately after whatever sport I've engaged in, I just feel better. I'm far more balanced and relaxed. I also adapt my longer yoga practice later in the day to how I feel after engaging in all these other activities. My practices are completely independent of whatever "official" stretches are recommended for cycling, tennis or to stretch the muscle groups I've worked during resistance training. I take the time to do those recommended stretches after working out, but most of the time, they are not part of my yoga practice. My practice is just a very soothing and enjoyable recovery from that other more intense activity.
I'm finding that reframing my practice this way is helping me find my way to my mat more easily and with a lot more enthusiasm that honestly, can be somewhat lacking day to day.
So, for those of you who struggle with practicing on your own at home, can you reframe your self-guided practice a bit? Ask yourself: How can I use my practice to help me feel good after engaging in other athletic pursuits? Whether you are walking your dog in the morning, participating in your local Turkey Trot or training for a triathlon, let this question be what guides your yoga this month. You might just find that it makes your self-guided practice more enjoyable and sustainable. I hope so.
Some tips on reframing your practice:
· Start seated or lying down and take plenty of time to really feel what’s going on in your body. What do you notice? Which shapes or movement will feel good to you today?
· Listen to your body and trust yourself to know exactly what to do.
· Go with what will make you feel good and let go of everything else, especially what you think you should practice. Practicing the "shoulds" won't help you find your way to your mat more often.
· Avoid practicing by rote or habitually. Just because you might make shapes or movements in your practice most of the time doesn't mean you should do those things today.
· Consider using lots of props, especially if you are sore from your other activities.
· Observe how this kind of practice makes you feel, and if it feels good, let that positive feeling motivate you to get on your mat again the next day.
As always, please feel free to contact me with questions or comments. Let me know how you are doing on your personal yoga practice journey. I am happy to support you in any way I can.
Happy Thanksgiving and much love to you all.