My daughter said Yoga today for the first time, and this International Yoga Day! I felt so darn proud!!
As I have discussed previously in my post The Yin, I have had some health challenges over the last year. As a result, my regular yoga asana practice has suffered. I had not taken the lessons that yoga teaches us, one of the main principles or limbs of yoga being ‘proper rest’ and kept trying to push on through, punishing myself for my “failures” on the mat.
Yoga is of course not about whether or not you can touch your toes, but what you learn about yourself on the way down. One of the important lessons being acceptance of where you are, in body mind and soul, on this day, in this moment when you come to the mat. Awareness and acceptance of current limitations. My body was screaming for rest, for mercy, but it fell on deaf ears. I ploughed on regardless with my powerful practice until I could plough no more. Then my asana practice came more or less to a standstill, which no doubt could have been avoided if I had have just heeded my body and adjusted my practice accordingly. In typical me style I would not accept the message my body was trying to deliver, with full love. I did manage to maintain a regular mantra and meditation practice but my asana practice came to a grinding halt.
As I have also mentioned in my post Baby Steps….it’s a work in progress over the course of the last few months I have been gradually feeling better and better and applying the principles and wisdom I have been learning in Ayurveda to my personal circumstances to positive effect. I missed my regular asana practice though, I yearned for it and for the balance and peace it brings me. I am lucky enough to have experience of just how powerfully healing a regular practice can be. I knew that I needed to reintroduce it into my daily life but also knew it could not be gruelling 2-3 hour sessions like before. I have neither the time with my daughter nor the energy. I would need to be kind to myself in the practice, listen to myself, accept that at this moment in my life I cannot have the practice I dream of, but that it is not an impossible dream if I just keep doing a little yoga every damn day. As I said….baby steps. You have to start small, build and persevere. Rome wasn’t built in a day as the saying goes.
So given all the punishment I have dished out to myself over the last year for perceived failings, I knew that I had to set a realistic goal with my new practice, otherwise I was setting myself up to “fail” again which would be counter productive to my mental health and well being. I decided to commit to some physical yoga practice 6 days a week. I would at a minimum do 12 rounds of sun salutation every morning, 6 days a week. 7 if I want, but if I wanted a day off once a week I would allow myself that.
I chose sun salutation because it is a great sequence for energising the body and because it works all the muscles of the body so this beautiful practice is a complete body workout in itself, the full monty, wrapped up in a bow. Depending on how slow or fast I do them and how many rounds I decide upon (with a minimum of 12) I can do it in just 10 mins. If I have time, or am feeling it, I will also do a longer practice but as a minimum I set myself the challenge of daily sun salutations. They say it takes 30 days to build a habit, and I have now completed 40 days so felt I could write about it.
It has really been a huge learning experience and a powerful reminder of the necessity of the practice for me in my life.
I remember that first forward bend on day one, my body was so stiff and I felt aches and pains in places I don’t ever remember having aches and pains even before I started to practice yoga in the first place. This of course was all the tension and frustration and negativity that I was carrying around with me in relation to my health. I had a flash of ‘oh man how far have I fallen?’, as my body ached, groaned cracked and creaked like an engine that hadn’t been oiled or run for years, and I could feel the negativity and depression creeping in daring me to just give it up. I cleared these thoughts from my mind however and reminded myself of why I was doing it. To be open to the lessons my body had to teach me, to be gentle and kind to myself, to be in the moment. Each perfect moment of the practice.
It is quite amazing how after just over a month my body has opened up again. Not only do I feel so much stronger, and more energised but I have let go and released so much that was blocked. My appreciation of this amazing practice of yoga has deepened, and I remain eternally grateful for having had the opportunity to study this ancient healing art and to have it in my life.
Now don’t get me wrong, my morning practice is not serene and peaceful as it once was. Sometimes I manage to get my sun saluations out of the way whilst my daughter has her nappy changed by her daddy, brushes her teeth and wanders around playing but other times she is on the mat, laughing and crawling under my legs when I am in down dog, climbing on my back when I am in plank or supping on my boobs when I am in shoulder stand! It’s not pretty, it’s not serene but it’s real life and I am doing it, every damn day.
Today I was just finishing up my sun salutations when she came in to the room with her daddy and said ‘Guck mal daddy’ (look daddy) ‘mama’ and pointed at me. Actually she said ‘uck mal daddy’ because she can’t pronounce the G. To which Wolf answered ‘ja mama macht Yoga’ (mummy is doing yoga) and she replied ‘Cuisle auch yoga’ or rather ‘Uisle auch yoga’ as she can’t pronounce the hard C, and then trotted on to the mat and proceeded to demonstrate her rather impressive repertoire of yoga asana’s which included downdog, upward facing dog, supported headstand, forward bend and crocodile. Wolf was of course instructed to join us on the mat ‘daddy auch yoga’!! So we all bent and stretched and laughed together.
I was so proud of her, and so overwhelmed with emotion that I can introduce my daughter to this ancient and beautiful yoga practice at this young age which is one of the greatest gifts I can give her.
We proceeded to have fun doing cat/cow, lion and frog all with appropriate animal noises of course and I felt so grateful for this practice, and that I had not closed the door and shut myself off for 10 minutes each morning to do it. I just did it on the mat in our bedroom amid the melee of crazy morning activity getting ready for work and kindergarden and normal family life. Those moments of irritation I had sometimes felt as she climbed on my back in the middle of my flow trying to deter me from my goal of daily sun salutations looked so different in this moment with hindsight. They were beautiful moments. Moments to be cherished. The ultimate goal is not to tick a box saying ‘yes! 12 sun salutations done’ cross that off the list What’s next? That is actually entirely the opposite to what I am trying to achieve. Rather it is to open up to more, to be more present and in the moment, to be content with where I am whilst working for what I want, which is exactly what happened today in the most wonderful of ways. It was a glimpse of the Yang baby!! and I appreciated it all the more for having been hanging out with the Yin so much lately!
Being the Summer Solstice today, I plan to complete 108 sun salutations this evening when my daughter goes to bed to honour this pivotal point in the year when the sun is at it’s highest in the sky and daylight hours the longest. It would of course have been better to do this at sun rise but my schedule would not permit this. I will take this easy, at my pace, and if it becomes too much I will just do what I can do, but I am excited today to honour the sun in this most beautiful and ancient way.
I mean my daughter said Yoga today!!!!!.how much more inspiration does one need to to motivate you to keep going?!!! I will keep you posted on how I got on.
Do you have a plan, ritual or practice to celebrate International Yoga Day or the Summer Solstice? I would love to hear from you if you do, what you do? How did it go?
Until next time beautiful souls…….
May all beings be happy, may all beings be happy.
Happy International Yoga Day!
Namaste to you all.