We’ve all been there; perhaps during the pandemic more than before.... tight muscles, painful joints, chaos in our thoughts, uncertainty in our actions... and the thought of beginning any practice to ease these ailments may even add to the anxiety. It is not uncommon. There’s this assumption people tend to make about yoga teachers, be it based on social media or past experiences, which is they always have a perfect yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and movement practice. I’ll just go ahead and flip any of these idealistic images you may have painted upside down and let you know having a perfect daily yoga ritual is not real, nore is it supposed to be. And it is for these reasons I can revisit my daily yoga ritual every day.
When we let go of perfection and any notion that something needs to look a certain way, we open up the possibility for things to happen in new ways. We allow creativity into our lives. My daily yoga practice is anything from 5 minutes on the hardwood floor while I’m working, to a candle-lit guided practice, to a pre-run or pre-ride stretch at the trailhead. It’s not about location, length of practice, type of poses, or zen music. It’s about stopping what you are used to doing and turning to your body to listen. Sometimes it needs more, sometimes less. Sometimes you don’t have time for what it does need, so you make do. But despite the fact that our lives must carry on and that we are humans with minds that wander and have cravings, having a daily yoga practice without labels or strict limitations means it is more likely to happen every day.
I have practiced yoga for close to 15 years, and I’ve been a yoga teacher for 5 of those years. My relationship with yoga is constantly changing, and will continue to do so. Sometimes it’s a slow, meditative practice, and other times it’s a fast, sweaty, movement-based practice. Yoga doesn’t mean peace, perfection, or even flexibility. It actually means “to yoke,” or to join two things together, such as the mind and body. If you are seeking to grow your relationship with yoga, my advice would be to start with your why- why do you wish to start yoga? Whatever your answer is, know that if you give your practice the freedom and flexibility necessary to make it a reliable source of ease for the rest of your life, you’ll leave each day with much, much more than why you originally wished to form a practice in the first place. Your daily ritual is yours to form and create, daily.
If you are looking to begin a practice, I’d recommend setting aside 10-15 minutes every day to roll out a mat, and complete the following set of poses. Please understand each post prior to performing it, and if you have any injuries or restrictions, take time to understand your body and what you should or should not do.
1) Child’s Pose
2) Cat / Cow Pose
3) Downward Facing Dog
5) Upward Facing Dog
6) Low Lunge (each side)
7) Standing Forward Fold
8) Mountain Pose