In my head, I want to be the woman who taught yoga as a full time job, did 530am practices in the park, meditates, is fully vegetarian, and can pop into headstand with no notice. Oh, and if I could still be in my twenties, that’d be great too.
Instead, I’m in my thirties, work 5 days a week plus overtime, can’t touch my toes, and teach a class once every three months. I haven’t stepped foot inside a yoga studio in almost a year.
But somehow, when Lakeside Natural Health challenged me to write their lead article for April, I wrote that I would dedicate this spring to more of what feeds me, and, embarrassingly, more yoga. In fact, I even wrote that I’d already started doing more yoga – maybe more savasana?
One of the biggest challenges I faced is that every time I’ve tried to increase my yoga practice in the past few years I feel great for a week, and then I start to feel like my body is falling apart, and it gets worse after each class instead of better. If you’ll excuse a little self-diagnosis, my impression is that I run a high risk of overstretching my connective tissue ( because there is a family history of hypermobility), and my muscles become fatigued from doing all of the work to support my body. It isn’t something that happens to everyone, and it is something that I can create a treatment plan to help yoga students develop the muscle strength to support their bodies without collapsing.
How did I treat myself?
Instead of joining a yoga studio with full hour or 90 minute classes, I managed my practice at home, using a combination of class sequences that I developed myself (modifications of the 12 asana sequence taught in Sivananda yoga) , and short sequences from youtube. I varied the length of my practices, and focused more on supporting myself than on increasing flexibility. After 3 weeks of yoga I very slowly began to fit my mental image of what a yogi looks like, with adjusted expectations, forgiveness, and plenty of room for growth. My flexibility has increased in my forward bend (always difficult for me), and my strength has increased. More important are the other changes I’ve brought about: more attention to my diet, my breathing, positive thinking, and meditation.
During my month of yoga I had a week of increased pain, but now my pain and energy levels are both higher than before I started. I’m finding more time in my day, and spending less time stressed out.