Why I practise yoga every day!
Last week I had one of the most amazing yoga practices to date, despite a broken and dislocated toe! At the time I was on day 3 of a juice fast. I had more energy than ever and felt light and full of enthusiasm. My body felt flexible and my mind strong and focused. I honestly could have practiced for hours more if I didn’t have to go to work. When I got to work I was so vibed, I felt incredible, full of energy and super productive.
This week however, everything changed completely. I woke up this morning feeling like I had either been run over by a bus or had the worst hangover ever!! I dragged myself out of my bed, had a shower and revived myself ready for yoga practice. I thought I just need to bend and breathe a bit and that will sort me out.
On the mat, my concentration kept diverting to thoughts of a dear family member that is terminally ill. Physically, I felt like I was practising with a different person’s body. Every joint felt inflamed, every muscle felt like plastic with no malleability whatsoever, my bones seemed to hurt and my overall energy was zero. I wearily worked my way through the standing series of Ashtanga, before opting for some restorative poses and relaxation.
It got me thinking; Yoga is so incredibly humbling and helps us to understand on a very deep level how our health is, mental and physical, whenever we come to the mat. Reflecting on my Buddhist studies, I realise that we should never come to our mats (or any situation for that matter) with expectations of being able to do this or that. Non-attachment to the outcome is necessary for us to relax and be with our experience, which is never the same twice. Also, everything is changing moment to moment; sometimes we can climb mountains, sometimes only mole hills. The ability to respect and honour our capabilities at any given the time is integral to our growth and understanding of self.
Having a regular practice, I notice the subtle differences of my physical, emotional and mental health on a daily basis. On days where there is a lot of mental resistance, I know this is when I am suppressing emotions or avoiding facing up to something that will rear its ugly head should I cut off distraction and be with my breath. Unhealthy diet choices or flights cause chaos for my digestion and inflammation in my body. Sugar and caffeine causes my mind to become irritated, agitated and heart rate to speed up which makes for a challenging yoga or meditation practice. When my diet is right and my world is calm, I am able to practice or sit for time and my body is as flexible as plasticine.
I guess that is why a daily practice is not just a daily workout on the mat, it’s a time to tune in and listen to what my body and mind is telling me. By honouring my state of health in that moment I can adjust my lifestyle choices for that day and pick the right tools to nourish me. That is why a daily practice of some kind is so important, to cultivate that connection and kindness to self so that we can be proactive and take responsibility for our own health and happiness. Taking just 5-10 minutes out of your day for your own well being, could have a more profound effect than you think. So think of this time as a little science experiment. Make it fun, but most importantly make it happen, and see how your attitude to your health transforms.