Wow! I have to honestly tell you that the last time I did 6 days of asana in a row…I actually don’t even recall. Maybe 3 years ago? Before marriage, pregnancy, baby…I feel freakin’ amazing!! To clarify my intention for everyone, I am not committing to 365 days of an asana practice. That would send my pitta and vata flying; I am committing to a traditional practice from my ashtangi roots of 6 days of asana per week with one day off, no practicing on the full or new moon and no practice on the first three days of my moon. On the days that I take off, I will be doing pranayama and meditation.
Yesterday I fell hard into bed. I did a 90 minute hard vinyasa practice, then went for a 2 hour walk with my fur baby (dog), my human baby and my sweet friend and her sweet baby and then I taught two hot classes. When I got home my physical exhaustion was palpable. I was very aware of a familiar sensation in my body that I get when I have done too many twists and too much core. Its almost a metallic sensation, where I can even get a certain taste in my mouth. Its a very strange description I know but that’s what it is. I share this because I encourage you to really sit with your body and feel it. I think many of us neglect to do this because we don’t know how or don’t want to feel how we are feeling physically, emotionally, whatever, its just too much.
Sit quietly for a few moments. You have to be very comfortable and if you’ve never had a sitting practice use your couch, a chair, cushions, whatever you may need. Close your eyes and just breathe. There’s a lot of pressure here not to think. If you try and empty your mind I find a lot of the time the exact opposite happens, then we are left feeling frustrated. To begin just be in a practice of observation; watch the breath as a scientist would, with incredible wonder and curiousity. Every time your mind wanders away from the breath or the physical sensations of your body, bring your awareness back to one of those two places. Even if you sit for 1 minute your first time, that’s a great feat.
See if you can provide yourself this opportunity for a sitting practice. It can be done anywhere and just requires your willingness. There are so many benefits to getting quiet: relaxation, stress relief, better sleep, feeling the body, tapping into something greater, it goes on and on. Yoga is an eight limbed path. Rather than being like rungs on a ladder, this path is more like spokes on a wheel with you in the centre. The physical practice of asana is just one of these spokes, meditation and concentration are others. You don’t have to be a pretzel to be a yogi and in fact the second sutra of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (the big yogi book if you will) is yogas-chitta-vritta-nirodhah, “Yoga is the stilling of the mind.” Asana, or the postures of yoga are just one of the ways that work to quiet the mind, they certainly aren’t the only way but its a great place to start.