Get Me to The Mat
Before we begin, it’s important to say, don’t be hard on yourself. Please don’t read this blog and add it to your ‘to do’ list. This isn’t about perfection. Really, there’s no ‘right way’. There is only you and your mat. This short blog will take you through some ideas which will support you to better integrate class practice and self practice into your life.
Making the time
Let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to find the time. But, a little part of us knows, it’s probably there. Hiding between the great happenings of life; the times when you spend a little longer than needed having breakfast, the times when you fall too deeply into the content on your phone, or maybe the times when you watched that one extra episode of your favourite series. Begin by looking at your week as a whole and honestly plot the times you could fit in a practice. It might be worth plotting self practice time – time at home on the mat – and also, class time. Self practice can be as short as 10 minutes. It can be a little space in every day to watch your breath, to feel your feet on the ground. Classes may be a little more tricky, you can probably only fit in a couple per week. Once you’re done, take a look at your options. I’m guessing you have more time than you might have expected, maybe even a lot more time than you expected. Now, we both know you’re not going to make all these sessions – so don’t kid yourself and pile on the pressure – but, at the very least, before you begin your week, you know you have lots of options to practice your yoga. So, if you miss some along the way, it’s ok. You’ll make the next one. Or the one after that. I’m not discounting a need for discipline but work with discipline, not against it. Don’t punish yourself with it, used effectively – with love, care and acceptance, disciple can free you and not control you.
So, you’ve plotted out your timetable. Next, make a little contract with yourself to commit to your yoga. Being accountable is an important tool for motivation and discipline. Of the 10 times in the week where you found some space for yoga, commit to three sessions on the mat, between class time and self practice. You’ve mapped your time. You’ve made a commitment to yourself. Your commitment is reasonable. And, your commitment is done out of self care and love for your practice.
A sacred space
Whether at home or in your favourite yoga studio, be sure to make your practice space right for you. If it’s your yoga studio, chose a studio that makes you feel at home. A place that’s welcoming and engaging. A place which embraces you, and meets you where you are. And at home, for your self practice, take the time to create a space which embodies the same energy.
If you’re practising at home, it can be nice to have a room with soft lighting. And maybe some music. This is your space so you can have it whatever way works best for you. Turn off your phone. Get your comfies on. Roll out your mat and begin to tune in.
The middle way
It’s said that we have around six key mood states which we experience in an average day. The good moods – happy, generous, caring and fun – always feel great, but it’s at these times we may think there is no need for practice as we’re already in a good place. The bad states, don’t feel so good and may include feelings such as impatience, anger, resentment and pity. During these times, it’s hard to find motivation and sometimes, the last thing we may want to do is roll out a yoga mat. This is why it’s important to foster access to your more balanced mood states – the middle way.
In balance we experience a sense of calm, of quiet, of clarity, of patience and of understanding. For others but most importantly for ourselves. These are usually the easiest states to practice. In this state, we can think things through because our thoughts are moving at a rate we can observe easily and there is a certain gentleness of effort within us.
I’m not suggesting there won’t be days when we experience the opposites, in painful measures. That’s life. But in time, through your practice and through continued objectivity and evaluation of your moods, as they move through you, the middle way may becomes stronger and more sustainable. More than this, you learn how to build a practice which addresses this balance, no matter what state of mind you are experiencing. You may even notice that your practice becomes more specific and subtle, as your awareness and understanding of yourself deepens.
So, if you can, don’t avoid the mat because of your mood. Bring your mood to the mat. Give your mood space.
This way, every session becomes a journey.
Excellence over perfection
We all have a voice in our mind that’s critical and holds up an image of our ideal self that’s quite frankly near impossible to live up to. Usually, this image is our perfect selves, without imperfection. That’s the problem with the ideal or perfect self. There are no room for mistakes. So anytime we make a mistake – which is often – the critical voice is on hand, ready to offer some feedback. Feedback is healthy but constant criticism is exhausting. So what are your options? Should we not be aspiring to be the best that we can be? Our ideal selves! Yes, but life is a journey with highs and lows. We walk up a mountain, to walk down it again. We sit in the glorious sun and feel a divine sense of warmth and peace and then, we walk in the freezing cold through the lashing rain, chilled to the bone.
So, the ideal is ever-changing and forever moving. We must go through the highs and the lows and along the way, we gain understandings which help us to get up when we fall and continue moving. It’s in this journey that we learn and grow from our mistakes. Mistakes are an essential part of life and in truth, mistakes are opportunities to grow in character and live more fully. This is the practice of excellence, because excellence allows for mistakes.
Within your practice, loosen the burden of judgements, expectation and desires. Commit to holding the middle way and move with love, acceptance and compassion. In this you will find your truth; your physical, mental and spiritual edge. Work here to explore excellence, but never perfection.
And most importantly, enjoy the journey!
The Yago Family x