Who is to say that once you're on a path it never changes? But if you've been walking the same road again and again, finding tread along a new way may not be effortless. This is yoga.
Today's grain of wisdom to roll around is the notion of a recovery day. One might think - "A recovery day from yoga?! I thought yoga was active recovery." One might not be considering all of the variables. When a person dedicates his or herself to a "daily" practice that means daily for a LIFETIME. That is a HUGE mental burden in and of itself - physical practice aside. In order for the spirit to feel fresh and ready to receive the benefits of a daily yoga practice (or any discipline for that matter) a rest day is essential. Does that mean you lay on the couch and undo the work you have done. Not necessarily - but the occasional "treat yoself day" is sometimes just what you need - that's a completely different subject though.
A rest day means something different to everyone but I do encourage you to examine you practice, whatever it may be, and scale back your efforts to 25% or less of what you might normally take on. For example, yesterday I did a 15 minute meditation. I'll spare you the time lapse its really boring. Before bed I was feeling tight in my low back and hips so I did pigeon, cow-face pose, and seated spinal twist - maybe 10 additional minutes of yoga on top of my meditation. Just enough to keep me limber but enough extra time for a nap. I was really tired and I need more rest than even yoga could afford me. Today's power practice just reinforced what a good idea that was. I nailed poses that are normally just beyond my ability because I'm "too tired" or my shoulders are sore...so on so forth. Today there were no excuses - just powerful, fun, refreshing vinyasa. It felt so good.
Just as yin yoga is a mental challenge, creating a healthy lifelong relationship with you practice can also be deceptively difficult. Give yourself a break, enjoy one day off a week and see your practice and your gratitude for your practice take on a whole new depth.
I do a lot of time lapses but I included a real-time clip of one of my yin sessions. The hardest part of a yin session is being mentally strong enough to push past the pain incrementally until your body breaks. Then the second hardest part is staying beyond your edge for a few breaths so that you move the edge back just a little bit at a time. Check out how long it takes me to get into my fullest forward fold in the second video.
This time lapse is one part Ashtanga through the floor series (Marichyasana A), one part targeting my weaknesses (knees and shoulders) and one part meditation. This location is The Peace Practice on Memorial Avenue.
I find myself in the position of being on too tight of a budget to other studios in the area more than once or twice a month. Luckily, technology exists and can provide cheaper and free alternatives. Here's what I've done - I take online classes once or twice a week if I am too mentally exhausted to be spontaneously creative. Once or twice a week I audio record the classes that I teach and then listen to/do my own class. That is a great way to quality check my ability to guide a person through a practice and humbling when I mess up.
Online and audio yoga is great but how do I know that my alignment is correct? I record myself. When I do my own classes I do a full-length HD video. I have three currently and when I have a few more I will post them to Vimeo where you can purchase them. Look for that option in August.
When I flow spontaneously for the pure joy of moving and yoga I do time lapses and post those to Vimeo, too. Again, I can review my poses and see where I need to make adjustments. Plus, who doesn't need accountability from time to time? There are times that I don't feel like doing yoga. Thankfully, I have just enough discipline to sit my booty on my mat and do something. As the meme goes, "I really regret going to yoga...said no one ever."
Here are three of my yogi time lapses from the last few days:
Not every day of yoga (in my life) looks the same. Sometimes all I have in me is 30 minutes and some meditation and sometimes I yoga for almost two hours. I let my body tell me what it needs and try not to force myself into anything based on preconceived notions of achievement or comparison. You may be wondering where 20140726 yogi time lapse is. Well, sometimes I do yoga on a floating dock in the middle of a lake and its just not safe to try to set up my video equipment. Pics or it didn't happen ;-)