This is another set of suggestions for December’s Daily Dose of Yoga. Again, feel free to use, modify, delay, or ignore these suggestions as you see fit.
Day 5: Satya & Swadyaya
Truth and self-study. Or, as I like to combine them, self-truth as a result of self-study.
Which is a sort of an abstract philosophical lead in to these truths about myself:
- Sometimes I feel self conscious about needing to take restorative care of my body, afraid that if I admit that I’m not up for a vigorous asana practice, this means that I am weak or unfit — and afraid that… someone (me, other people, the universe at large) will view this weakness as a moral or character failing rather than as what my body or mind happens to need at this time.
- On the flip side, sometimes I am lazy. The end of a good, fiery practice feels awesome and purifying, but getting through the fucker is a shitload of work. Pushing my body to the edge may well be fulfilling, but it is seldom lighthearted, thoughtless fun.
Those two truths coexist within me. Either, both, or neither of them may surface as what serves me on any given day. In other words:
- Sometimes I am not lazy and also not preoccupied with taking restorative care of my body beyond what I consider “average” for someone who is able-bodied. There is no real conflict here.
- Sometimes, I feel physically unable, but my brain feels pressure for me to do, do, DO. In cases like these, I have to listen very carefully so that I give my body the breaks and restoration it needs.
- Other times, I feel physically able but am mentally lazy: I know I can do it with no negative repercussions, but I just don’t want to. It’s days like this that I just need to get over myself already.
- And still other times, I feel lazy but also recognize that underneath it, there’s a real issue with my body going through a vigorous practice. At times like these, I need to recognize the superficial laziness for what it is but also honor the deeper need to be gentler with myself.
The self-reflection comes from hearing these different needs, wants, and excuses from my body and deciphering which is which. The satya comes from adjusting my practice according to which voice is true today, regardless of which voices I hear loudest or most often.
Day 5: Yoga Journal’s Strengthen Your Core:
I don’t often use Yoga Journal videos because a lot of them tend not to make accommodations for larger bodies. In that light, this one is something of an exception. True, there are some portions — for instance, when the instructor recommends placing yoga blocks on the mat but so there is still hip clearance (there is no such place for me) — that still fit this description; however, I found that I was able to do most of the postures without modification — and the modifications I used were relatively straightforward (my blocks came off my mat to accommodate my hips; I moved on with my life).
[Video from Yoga Journal via YouTube.]
I might use this type of practice for any of the fist three Day 4 instances that I mentioned, depending factors like severity of pain or time issues. It’s intense, yes, but it’s also short. While this can be a bonus for me when I’m feeling fine and am just pressed for time, it can also be a way for me to compromise my conflicting body and mind truths. If I’m physically able but mentally lazy, sometimes a shorter time at a more intense practice is best for me. Similarly — or conversely? — if I’m mentally energetic but have limited stamina reserves, that same short but vigorous practice can let my drive feel validated without overly taxing my body.
I’m not suggesting that this asana practice is right for everyone 75% of the time; it’s not even right for me 75% of the time. I am, however, suggesting that it’s important for folks to find ways to balance the various needs of and demands on their bodies. This is one of mine; others are going to look a lot different according to individual abilities and needs. The important things are to listen to oneself and to be honest regarding the messages communicated.