“Om Monday”, anyone? 🙂 I will be talking about yoga, yoga classes, yoga styles and practices on the blog on Mondays now as part of my “Om Monday” blog series. No set in stone schedule for that one yet, but will see if it works out into something regular. Ready?
So Yoga… Have you ever done yoga?
I’ve been practicing it on and off since forever but lately (the past 3-4 years) – regularly, several times a week – both on my own and in a yoga class setting.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve seen me rave about Yoga at Simply Well – our local yoga studio, starting to work on my Sport Yoga Instructor Certification and striking yoga poses all over the place 🙂 🙂 🙂
I’ve always been pretty flexible, so no trouble there. It is something else that yoga has always been and still is for me – my peace and quiet time. “Me time” to use a popular cliché. Without going all “yoga talk” on you I’m just going to say that a regular yoga class or a home practice comes in 4 stages for me.
Yoga Class: My 4 Stages of Practice
1. Mental Chatter
or “Ohdamnitiforgottoputthisonmyshoppinglist” stage comes first. I’m still thinking about my “to do” list or plans for the day ahead. This is the hardest part to overcome and to silence that little voice in your head. The answer for me here is easy to say and hard to do – just BREATHE. Shift the focus from the voice in your head to your breath.
or “Oh good…This feels good. If only I was more flexible” stage – the body starts to warm up, stretches feel great but I’m still thinking critically of myself. That forward fold could have been done with more grace, that backbend did not feel so great, my arms are too short for this, and so on. This is where that mental clutter of self judgment starts coming back and I take Round 2 of fighting it. The answer is still in the breath and reminding myself that it is not the time of judgment – by self or anyone around. By the way, if you think that anyone will be watching and judging you while in downward facing dog – you’re wrong. Very-very wrong. 🙂
3. Noticing Progress
or “Oh how awesome! I can do something I struggled with before!” stage. This is one of the best parts of practicing yoga (or practicing anything for that matter) – seeing the progress. Me? I started seeing progress 2 weeks after starting my regular practice. Being able to go deeper into a pose, hold it for longer and just getting into it without going out of breath is something you see if you pay attention every time you practice. So the key in this stage for me is to PAY ATTENTION, or in another cliché – “Listen to You Body”. It’s pretty rewarding to see the progress!
4. Relaxation and Acceptance
or “I’m just going to enjoy this” stage. By this time I’m done with self-judgment, self-doubt and other self-inflicted negativity 🙂 I’ve let it all go while I was struggling to get into that second position of Pigeon. I’ve forgotten all about it while making sure my body alignment is correct in that Warrior II. I’ve reached the Savasana part of it all and I’m pretty proud of my accomplishments of the last hour. So I give myself a pat on the back for that and just enjoy the last few minutes of relaxation with a smile on my face. And you know what? The first 3 stages might vary – some days one will be more pronounced than the other, but this part never fails – a smile and a sense of accomplishment.
Those are my 4 stages of a yoga class and ways to handle them.
Talk to me: do you practice yoga? What is your favorite style of yoga? What do you struggle with the most?
Have a great week, guys!