About two weeks ago I attended a workshop titled "Discipline and Yoga" at my local yoga studio. It was a workshop designed to help us develop a yoga practice of our own at home, outside the studio.
This is not the first time I had thought about such a thing. Although I have practiced yoga in studio a few times a week for nearly six years, a home practice has been something I've really wanted to cultivate for myself since the beginning.
One and half years ago I met with one of my favorite yoga teachers for something called a "yoga private." It is a one on one session with a yoga instructor where the yoga instructor and student come up with an at home practice that is suited to the individual's needs. It is not inexpensive and costs more than a typical yoga class, but I feel it is a good use of money. In my opinion, any investment in our health is usually worthwhile!
Yoga is an activity that can be more individualized than running or cycling. Specific postures can be chosen in accordance with one's constitution and health concerns to tailor a practice made for each person. For example, thyroid concerns, back problems, fatigue, etc.
While the appointment with the teacher went well and I learned what postures to do on my own at home, a home practice just did not happen... And was met with much guilt on my behalf.
If this is something I want, how come I cannot make it happen?
One year later (this Spring) I was talking to a different yoga teacher - the one I practice with every week on Sunday morning. I began considering once again the idea of a yoga private with her so I could start this home practice of my own.
While one year ago it did not come into fruition, I was confident that now was the time. I had let the guilt from the last meeting wash away and I was ready to try again! I let her know I wanted to engage in postures that helped build my energy.
I met with her. Loved it. She put together a whole practice suited for me and encouraged me at the least to just do a few of the postures each day if nothing more.
Life got busy, really busy. And a family member became very ill. My yoga practice at home once again did not happen.
Enter more guilt and shame.
And the same thought reappeared in my mind..
If this IS something I really want in my life and it would benefit my health, why is it SO hard to accomplish?
I canceled our next appointment that was set up as a follow-up as I had not tried (even once!) the yoga practice she had prepared for me and carefully typed up on a sheet for me to take home.
And I had to let it go. Perhaps now was not the best time for me either and sometime in the future will be..
Then a shift happened.
The first week in September my husband and I took our first week long trip together! We spent time at two cabins on lakes in northern Minnesota.
It was while there that I realized my perfect opportunity to practice a little yoga. I was away from the studio, so not getting my usual yoga in. My body and spirit were missing it desperately. We had a large deck right outside our cabin overlooking the Great Lake Superior. As the sun shone brilliantly, warming my body, I practiced yoga on the deck one afternoon while listening to the waves wash up on shore. It was heavenly and my mood which was a little low to start, improved immensely.
As much as I loved it, I did not have time to practice again before packing up to leave the cabin the next day. I was bummed as it was the perfect place to practice and I was wishing I had taken advantage of my beautiful surroundings on the previous days.
Thankfully I worked up the personal motivation to take out my mat and practice at the next cabin we stayed at, also on a lake. It was late, almost sunset, but the point was that I was getting out there to practice. And for that I was proud. Very, very proud! Despite getting bit up my mosquitoes and having to squirt on bug spray during my practice, (I was even bit on the bottom of my toes!) I was out there doing something good for myself and enjoying it.
And the next day I practiced again! It was perfect as I listened to the many kinds of birds chirp all around me. Besides listening to the few kayakers make their way by the lake cabin we were staying, it was perfect solitude.
I was sure at this point I was set on a home practice! But, once again it didn't happen. Boy was I disappointed in myself. Things had gone so well up north, why was it so hard to practice on my own here at home?
That is when I saw an offering for the class the former studio owner was teaching - the "Discipline & Yoga" one. So I signed up! Maybe here I would become inspired by something she taught.
I loved the class and learned about the benefits of a home practice and did feel inspired.
Yet...With high hopes I once again did NOT practice!
Then the unexpected happened... An email arrived from my yoga teacher Margaret (who taught the class!) asking me how my home practice was going.
Uh oh.. I wasn't expecting this. I was humiliated. Before when I didn't practice no one had to know but me. Now she was checking in with me and I had not practiced since the workshop! How could I admit my ways (failure?!!?) to someone I respect and like so much?
I responded back and told her the truth. That I'd had a challenging week and had just not made it onto my mat. And that I appreciated her checking in on me (not really!) and... if she wrote back in one week that I would hope to have better news to report.
What was I thinking?? Setting myself up to announce to her again in a week more disappointment and failure to follow through with my goals of practicing...
The next day I did it again. I was almost out of time before the sun set. It was chilly and I had to put on a fleece. But I did it! I practiced a home meditation and yoga practice for 40 minutes! Then it was dark and I went inside.
The following day? You guessed it, I practiced meditation and yoga for 65 whole minutes this time. Unbelievable, even to me. As the other times, I did not have a CD or video or iPhone app. I just listened to my body and practiced what I felt would be most healing as I moved my body with my breath.
Today I thought I was going to run out of time. After getting home about 6:00pm, I decided I really needed a walk before the yoga practice I wanted to practice.
But how could I let myself down? When I got done with my walk, I let my friend on the phone know that I had to go because I had to practice yoga!
And that's just what I did until it was getting dark. 45 minutes! Wahoo.
So that is just 4 days worth of practicing on my own. But I am ecstatic and SO super proud of myself. For breaking through those old barriers and accomplishing something that was so hard for me to do. After all, this is something I have been working toward for 1.5 years!
I really hope I am able to keep it up this time. Today as I practiced I felt a sense of calm I have never experienced on my own practicing yoga. It felt so healing and amazing.
Although we live three houses in from a very busy street and I could hear car after car going by while I practiced, I could also hear the crickets and birds chirping too. And I could feel and hear the gentle breeze blow through the trees and the warm sun on my skin. Yes, there were ants trying to crawl on my mat, but I just blew them off (literally!).
These are some of the benefits I've received from my home meditation/yoga practice:
1) I've felt a gentle opening and softening of my heart
2) I've felt more peaceful, free and at ease
3) My blood sugars have improved
4) My thoughts and worries from my day literally melt away during my practice and become molehills instead of mountains
5) I've felt more grounded and able to take on the world
6) I've gained confidence doing something so good for me
7) I feel I am a better wife, friend and person. I was able to remain calm despite the adversity and difficult people and situations that have come my way.
8) I've slept like a rock and engage in very deep, restful sleep.
9) More time in nature is always a good thing - each day I have practiced on my back patio. Some days needing an extra layer or two of fleece and other days needing to quiet my dog Jonah from barking at a squirrel, but it has helped me feel whole and more alive to be outside instead of inside on my computer staring at Facebook..
10) I feel strong and a deeper belief in myself for breaking through my old ways and previous inability to practice at home
It is incredibly reassuring to know I have this remarkable tool available to me wherever and whenever, helping me reach a greater place of calm and health. I do not need anyone or anything to practice, although a yoga mat is handy!
And now I will put forth my very best effort to continue my home yoga practice. Maybe not every day, but with the goal to practice every day. Utilizing this similar goal technique with my walking gets me out at least 6 days out of 7 if not more. Just creating the above list boosted my motivation and enthusiasm for continuing. Perfect!
So, what is an area of your life that you were able to charge ahead and move past previous barriers?
What is something that would benefit your health that you would like to get started on?
What has been holding you back?
What is one thing you could do in the next week to move forward with this goal?
In Peace & Wellness,
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