Part 1: The physical aspect of change
In the beginning of this 30 day challenge, I shared my goals.
I said, “I would concentrate on two aspects of my yoga practice; 1)consistently using breath to move me into, through, and out of each posture and 2) exercise acceptance and curiosity in each pose, in any given moment.”
I posted photos of the poses ( the photos above inside the studio) I was choosing to use to monitor my progress.
Due to the pain I felt in my shoulders, elbows, hips and knees, my mobility was limited.
Because I excercised acceptance and curiosity, I found where I held my breath, and created resistance in certain postures. This resistance generated muscle tension and strain.
Being committed everyday has helped me to improve my overall focus and flexibility, as well as altering the depth of my stretch in the postures.
I have also notice, the level of pain in my hips, knees, elbows and shoulders is almost non-existent.
In Part 2, I will share with you the non-physical affects I have notice as a result of this challenge.
Before my mom became sick I had a solid yoga practice going. I was also doing other things to help support my physical, and mental well-being.
Our mental, physical and emotional consciousness will shift to make room for what we feel takes precedence in our lives.
When I got the call that my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 Esophageal cancer, my life shifted. I was grateful I had been taking care of myself. I was physically, and mentally strong enough to be there for my mother.
We often give so much of ourselves away, thinking very little about the vessel we need to support our caregiving, our work, and our relationships.
Give yourself the love you need so you have the love you need to give away.
When you bring attention to anything, your awareness and sensitivity heightens.
I am more alert to when I am holding my breath or when I have diverted my attention away from my practice. I notice when I am just hanging out in the pose or actively engaged.
I am not just showing up to class any more because I NEED some exercise. I WANT to be there because I am more alert and more actively involved. I enjoy being present to the process.
I cannot help but smile. A change is taking place and I am not sleeping through it.
Support is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it shows your strength.
If your body is not capabable of doing a pose without modification or support, don’t push yourself into the posture. You can create unnecessary strain or injury.
In my 20’s, while giving birth, I sustained injury to my lower back. Due to this injury there are some poses where I need modification, and or support. Malasana is one of those poses for me.
While in this posture, and without support, I have to lean forward I experience discomfort in my hips, and a strain on my ankles because I have to spread my feet out so far to hold myself up.
The support of a block will gradually ease the tightness in my hips, and provide me the release, and flexibility I need to sit up straighter, and eventually sit in Malasana without discomfort.
Don’t strain, it’s not worth the pain.
I could have easily told myself that I will be too busy the next three days working, planning for an event, and pet sitting to follow through with my 30-day challenge.
Whatever you label as a distraction is only a perception
Have you ever noticed that when you TRULY commit to something, others will do what they can to support you, and some will even join you?
The only thing that will break your commitment are the thoughts you tell yourself.
Meet Daisy on the left who is taking a break between postures, and Lucky on the right, who is practicing Sphinx pose.
When I was done with my practice, I joined them in their practice, a walk with occasional leg lifts.
The second MOST important posture is Savasana
Savasana, also known as “corpse pose” is lying flat on your back while resting your arms and legs at 45 degrees.
The benefit of this pose teaches you to surrender and relax your muscles.
I know, for me, it’s a constant practice to surrender and relax without thinking about a gazillion other things I feel I “should be doing.”
These three to fives minutes may be the only time in the day you consciously practice letting go of stress. Take the gamble.
The only side effect is bliss
The lotus pose is THE most important posture.
In this posture, I set my intention, solidifying the foundation for the rest of the class.
After I set my intention, there is a party of monkeys jumping in my head, all wanting a piece of my attention.
Applying the Ujjayi breath. A Sanskrit word meaning “victorious breath” will help bring your concentration back to your practice.
Its a constricted breath, breathing in an out of the nostrils. Some call it the “Darth Vader” breath or the “ocean” breath.
(Try whispering really loud. This will give you an idea of what the constriction feels like in the back of your throat.)
This style of breathing allows you to hear your breath and helps to calm the mind, bringing your attention within. It also helps to warm your body’s core, and prepare you for your asana practice.
As I move through each yoga posture, I am reminded that my postures have become routine. I have been going through the motions but the benefits have waned.
It’s my commitment to stay focused that’s given life back to my practice.
Just getting into a posture and holding it until I am instructed to move into the next posture is important, but so much more can be gained by being focused.
When I am focused on MY practice; I don’t compare myself to what other yogis and yoginis are doing, I see where my posture can use fine tuning, I notice when I am holding my breath and creating resistance, and I recognize at what point I can cause injury to myself.
It’s like walking into the classroom for the very first time. Everything is new and exciting.
There is so much to be gained by being present and focused.
As my friend LouAnn Thomas says, “In-joy the journey.”
If you are just now tuning in, you can go back to read my post on Dec. 31st. (A New Resolution) explaining my challenge.