Hey friends, do you have a favorite yoga prompt?
Oh, I certainly do. I have always loved it when a yoga teacher said, "Listen to your body." For my little Kapha heart, it was an invitation to do less, back out when things seemed challenging or when I started to sweat, rest longer in child's pose. (We Kapha's prefer groundedness and stillness). As a teacher, I have also loved this cue, for the same reasons, I have always felt like it gave students permission to do less.
But have you ever had that ah-ha moment when you're like, "Maybe there is more to this." I recently read an article over at Yoga International that did just that and ya'll, it's time to revisit this prompt; what it really means and why it's so important on and off the yoga mat.
First, we live in a world that often encourages us to ignore or push past our body's inner signals. We work, when our body says it needs rest. We sit all day when our body says it needs to move. We eat three meals a day when we aren't hungry or we don't eat when our belly growls incessantly. You get the idea.
As a result of this neglect, our ability to identify these signals gets blurred. So "listening to your body" is a great invitation to just pay attention, to be interested and to be ready to respond to those internal signals on and off your mat.
Second, is the permission to prioritize your inner signals over what your yoga teacher, fitness instructor, trainer, social media, etc. is telling you to do, or how they are telling you to do it. It is the opportunity to not be blindly obedient, instead, to try different options like yoga props, a different variation like figure 4 instead of pigeon pose(because that gives you more of the sensation you are looking for), or adding or decreasing weight. And off the mat, it could mean that you eat breakfast when you wake up because your body needs food first thing in the morning, even though all the rage is intermittent fasting or that you say yes to nine hours of sleep instead of staying up late on Saturday night to watch that movie with your partner.
And are you ready for my biggest shift in thinking around "Listen to your body"? Here goes. (Drum Roll)
What if we listen to the signal from our body, but then engage in a collaboration with our mind's good judgement before acting? Ask ourselves, is this message helpful or necessary? Have a conversation between mind and body. (silently of course so your people don't think you've completely lost your mind!)
For example, I can easily default to where something feels easy and stay there for ever. That's why Yin Yoga was so attractive to me. I could stay in a stretch for days! But my brain knows that I'm hypermobile and over stretched and staying in a deep stretch for long amounts of time is going to cause pain in my body. So, no more loooong holds. And how many of you if you listened to your body, might never get your cardio on! Girls, I'm shouting a big AMEN! over here. But my brain says, "Girlfriend, get off your ass and move! You know you feel better if you raise that heart rate!"
So there you have it, my WTH moment around "Listen to your body." I still have a strong affinity for this prompt, for this practice and if you take my yoga class you are sure to hear it several times. Off my mat, I will be continuing my work, allowing space for the conversation between my bodies cues and my mind's good judgement. I hope you will too, my friend.
I feel like I'm living Groundhog Day, the movie. Each day a repeat of the one before, with no motivation to get out of my pajamas or get off the couch. Of course a pandemic and winter snow storms don't help, right? I'm telling you, I've had to have a real come to Jesus meeting with myself this week. I've had to call in ALL the Yoga Sutras to my practice!
Lisa, girl! Pull yourself together!
Anybody else right there with me? I've had to pull out all the stops, to get my a** motivated and I thought you might find my tricks and tips helpful.
First, I've set a time limit on my morning routine. No more than one hour for coffee, coffee refills, reading, social media and news checks, meditation, breakfast. I'm in the shower 1 hour after I get out of bed. If you don't have a morning routine, start one. Got kids, get up 15 minutes earlier and have a 15 minute time limit. The key is to SET A TIME LIMIT.
Second, movement practice before noon. Whatever your movement practice is for the day, do it early. If I wait until late afternoon or evening, forget about it.
Third, do what you like when it comes to movement. I hate the treadmill, it doesn't matter what I listen to, or how short I make the walk, I hate it. So, I stopped this week! I've changed my "cardio" (I use that term loosely) to low impact full body workouts with yoga and stretches and a snuggly savasana added in. I'm so much happier. If your looking for that type of workout go follow @lowimpactfit or @naablevy over on Instagram.
And lastly, I've changed my shoulds to coulds.. Instead of saying what I should do, I have put this question on my bathroom mirror: What three things could I do today that my future self will thank me for? I contemplate while I'm brushing my teeth and set a few goals for the day.
So there you have it, "Goodbye PJs and Netflix Motivation" tips. But having said that, remember, life is about balance, and some days, we just stay in our pjs.
We are in the middle of a snow storm here in the Bluegrass. It's super cold. Uggs, fuzzy sweater and sweatpants are my continual attire and I'm watching it snow, admiring the trees out my office window as my old man cat, stares me in the face. Like "Hey, your not working are you?" in his obnoxious, snooty cat way. Where are my cat people?
Sorry, I digressed, now back to the view; glistening trees, standing strong, their branches bending low to the ground, some have snapped under the weight. And I'm reminded how much I LOVE Tree Pose! (Vriksasana, for the yogis in the house!) It's always been one of my favorites.
It is true, a balance pose can evoke strong emotions. Most people love them or hate them with little room in between. Hmm. Why is that? Sometimes Tree might be a challenge but sometimes it's an invitation to throw caution to the wind and play. The entire essence of Tree is about finding balance with the freedom to move and sway, right? It gives us the opportunity to notice how we react when we feel unstable, teaches us lessons in how to maintain focus and offers curiosity about patience, persistence and humility. OH, my!
I love playing in Tree and trying new things. Here are four of my favorite variations.
Did you know that over 18 million people practice the physical aspect of yoga? And most of those people identify as female. I have to admit that the asana (body postures) were my gateway into the practice. However, over the years, that is not what has kept me coming back to my mat. I must admit, I have this fascination with Yoga Wisdom, the spiritual aspects of yoga. It is the most challenging for me. So, I've been taking ANOTHER trip through the Yoga Sutras, teachings compiled by the guru, Patanjali, roughly two thousand years ago. For me, these are a map outlining the path to a healthy, balanced life. Every time I return, there are new pearls of wisdom to be gathered and cultivated and polished. Want to know my tried and true resources for the Sutras? Here you go! I even linked them for you!
1. The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Jo Devi
I got this one as part of my Yoga teacher training and immediately fell in love. It has a feminine voice and embraces the spirit of the sutras. Devi excludes the negative words in order to bring a positive vision to these sacred teachings. Her words and reflections resonate with me, empower me. I return to this text often.
2. Living the Sutras by Kelly DiNardo and Amy Pearce Hayden
This one has been on my bedside table for the last few years. These ladies bring the Sutras into today's world and present them in friendly language and small bites. They include useful reflections at the end of each section that I really enjoy journaling on or simply sitting with in stillness.
3. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Swami Satchindananda
This is my newest one and it is the most traditional of the three. It includes Sanskrit pronunciations and it is based on Sri Swami Satchindananda's informal lectures and teachings to his students. It has been a great addition to my study of the Sutras.
I'd love to hear about your favorite yoga books, Sutra related or not. I'm always looking to add to my bookshelf.
Registered Yoga Teacher, Menopause Doula, health and wellness explorer, self care expert focused on empowering women over forty with tools for loving the midlife journey