Since last week, when I spoke about having to sub Monday classes because I lost my voice, I’ve fought the good fight against the microscopic asuras (demons) of cold and flu season. Today is the first day I’ve felt mostly like myself, though more than anything I’ve just felt extra tired this week.
Feeling extra tired, I lounged at every opportunity. I taught some yoga classes and sounded like a retired lounge act with my whisky voice and throaty laugh like cat scratches on a window screen. I worked at the restaurant all weekend, too, and managed to stay in pretty good humor because I had low expectations given my energy levels. I managed to have a great weekend at work, between lounging of course.
I practiced yoga asana this week. I have homework, you see, from my most recent 500 hour teaching certification training with the teacher of my heart, Swami Jaya Devi. There are many elements to this homework and yoga practice at large, but for the rest of this article when I use the word “yoga” I mean postures and flow (moving with the breath).
Aside from doing my assigned yoga sequences, which are really fabulous and I can’t wait to teach them to you, I was pretty much a yoga slug this week. Let’s say I wasn’t very successful in my practice, and I use this specific set of words on purpose.
Someone said this to me last week, while I was mashed in the middle of yoga slug-dom myself. This person has a lot going on right now but also she is in a yoga teacher training program, too. So she has homework and stuff she has to get done; but not this week. When she made an allusion to success in yoga practice it caused new areas of my brain to light up.
From one slug to another, this is what I said, “I try (try being the operative word) to consider ebbs and flows rather than succeeding and lagging in practice, but it’s hard to do this. There’s more to yoga than mat time, though that’s very important.”
Mat time is very important. Yoga strengthens and stretches the body, saturating the blood with oxygen and bathing each cell in the subtle unseen Grace that surrounds us all the time. However yoga practice isn’t meant to be something to make us feel bad about ourselves, though sometimes I know it happens. It happens to us all.
Yoga is a weird thing. You’ll be in class having a great time, stretching those hamstrings and breathing deeply. You’ll reach your fingers to the ceiling and think, “This is great! I feel amazing! When is this gonna be over? What time is it? Maybe I’ll sneak out before savasana (arguably the best part of yoga practice).”
One interruption to practice, one hiccup in life that throws you off of your routine and BAM! No yoga for six months. Then there’s all this tension around going back. You think about it, write it on your planner, put your mat in the car; tap dancing and hedging around practice all. There’s not much difference between the tension of being a yoga slug for a week because of a cold or an extended yoga slug (which reads like a complicated supine twisting back bend posture) in which you begin to hide from practice.
This week in class we’ll be working with the push and pull of our yoga practice and how we might be able to use it in our favor. We’ll be looking at the ebb and flows of practice on the larger scale of life and the subtle rhythms of a practice session.
We’ll consciously flow into dynamic practices then ebb into the supportive arms of restorative yoga towards the end of class. Hopefully, realizing that there are many many facets to yoga practice and that many are suitable for whatever life situation the modern yogi faces, we will all find that the well trodden path is easier to return to after a hiatus than initially thought. Yoga isn’t a stick you use to beat yourself with, it’s access to your closest friend.
If you’ve never practiced restorative yoga my classes this week will offer a nice introduction to conclude a more vigorous practice.
Uru Yoga and Beyond Monday 4:30 pm and 6 pm Thursday 4 pm (Intro to Yoga Flow) and 5:30 pm open levels.