What I Learned NOT Doing Yoga for a Year10,000 footprints
“So, are you going to crack all night through this?” My husband asked from the couch where he lounged, reading. Tonight was my first yoga practice – at least one that was more than a minute or two – for a better part of a year. “No promises,” I replied, stepping back into downward facing dog.
Well, I didn’t just crack. I also creaked, groaned, burped, popped, farted, and sighed. If it had been my first ever yoga practice I would have wondered what these crazy movements were that wrung out every bit of air floating in my body and pressed it out through whatever joint or orifice was nearest.
In some ways it’s hard to believe that I haven’t maintained a regular asana (physical) yoga practice for a good chunk of time now. But in some ways both my mind and body benefited from the extended break.
During my year away from yoga I learned:
What my body remembers. Those who say they can’t do yoga because they’re not flexible enough may as well say they can’t take a bath because they’re too dirty (source unknown). I definitely came to yoga as a not-very-flexible person. When I did practice regularly for years, my flexibility grew by leaps and bounds. And even though this last year hasn’t been a good yoga year, most of my flexibility has been maintained through small movements I can now include in day to day activities.
Sometimes the best way to re-spark a curiosity is to take a break. There were several years I live-breathed-ate yoga. All the people I hung out with did yoga. I read Yoga Journal and browsed countless online boards where people talked about sequences and mediation practices and what new guru was taking the yoga world by storm. I practiced regularly, especially over my lunch break at work. I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training. I taught weekly classes. I reached a point of burning out. I learned that I do need yoga in my life, but that it doesn’t need to be my life.
There are many different paths of mindfulness. From painting, writing, hiking, washing dishes, and drinking water, as I wasn’t practicing mindfulness on a mat, I naturally and subconsciously found other ways to fill that space and give myself moments of quiet. I discovered new activities or rediscovered activities I’d long forgotten both of which I now love including in my regular routine.
After tonight’s yoga sequence, I remember how much my body and mind benefit from 30 minutes of conscious, planned movements practiced with intention. My learning now is to create a balance between using yoga as a powerful tool for personal development and from becoming overwhelmed by the potential enormity of practicing yoga.
Oh, and to keep releasing air from my joints and crevices in all its “gastly” forms.