December 6 may be the most special day of the year for me, right after my birthday and of course Festivus. But seriously, it’s very important, because it’s when I celebrate my yogaversary. My as yet unbroken daily yoga habit started as a challenge from my sister-in-law in 2013. Then it became a test to see if I could keep going. In turn it transmogrified into a streak (as in #DontBreakTheChain). Now it’s a non-negotiable. But there’s really just one basic point: I just do yoga every day.
Pretty simple. All the other words I have, could and will say about it pale in comparison to that simple phrase. The additional descriptions are so much chatter in the mind. And maybe therein lies a deeper truth about the practice: it changes you, but in subtle ways, and at a body level so that talking about it doesn’t even really get to the point. It’s a feeling. If you do it you know, but if you don’t, you ought to try it – you might like it, even if it’s not daily.
For my previous yoga posts, just type in “yoga” in the search box.
The secret to doing yoga (or anything) every day for six years is that there is really no one secret. There are finding many small things that help make it work. I can tell you that it takes a fierce commitment, hard work, strong discipline, unbelievable amounts of will power and a lot more to have done this EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR SIX YEARS.
But don’t take my word for it. I began using Insight Meditation Timer (IMT) on 12/27/15, after two years of practice. Shown are screen shots attesting to my practice since then. Some days I began after midnight and did my next practice the same day before midnight, so it’s not 100% accurate. But it shows that I’m doing something, and who would lie about a yoga practice, anyway? Not I. Anyway, IMT is a helpful tool, and has other features to boot like guided meditations. (No, they didn’t pay me to say that but hey, IMT, if you’re listening, please show me the money!).
Here are the obvious and some not so simple observations that come to mind that worked for me in doing this practice. They may help illuminate and inspire you in starting or continuing your practice, whether it’s yoga, biking or something else.
- Take it one day at a time aka BE HERE NOW!
- Leave your mat out and open on the floor if you can so it beckons to you
- No one else can do it for you; if your ass isn’t on the mat doing asana, you’re a yoga poser, and please don’t be that guy or gal
- It’s called a practice for a reason
- Regular practice is WAY more realistic than daily practice
- If you’re injured or sick, your yoga may be all corpse pose, breathing, or even meditation, and that is ok and still forms of yoga
- Sometimes I take a yoga nap on the mat and then practice
- Becoming a human pretzel is not the goal, for me at least
- It helps my body recover from bicycling 100 miles/week
- See yourself as a person who does yoga every day
- Think of the words “I will do yoga daily (or regularly)” followed by the old Orbit chewing gum ad; the British woman says “NO MATTAH WHUT!”
- If you miss a day, do twice as much the next (or not) and just start again without judgment – gently, very gently
- I cannot overemphasize that last point enough: BE VERY GENTLE WITH YOURSELF!
- It took me 15 years — after spending a summer at a yoga center — before I was able to establish a daily practice. Again, regular is great, too
- Live classes (if you can afford them) are very helpful to make you do yoga at first, but they’re optional especially after you’re established
- If you haven’t seen Yoga With Adriene, do so now. Is 4 million a sufficient number of reasons? It better be. That’s how many viewers she has on YouTube (but there are other teachers and videos). Here’s one on Yoga for Cyclists
- I know Adriene is the real deal because when I met her in person at SXSW, she placed one hand in mine and the other on top of it — and then gazed directly into my soul. Also, she danced with (ok, danced right in front of) me – and a class of 299 other people at SXSW
- Her annual New Year’s 30-Day program is a great kick start if you have a New Year’s resolution, plus she keeps it free
- You probably won’t lose much or any weight doing yoga, but focus, flexibility and calmness are all worthwhile benefits
- Yoga Journal and other magazines can also be helpful but are no replacement for doing the practice; always choose doing v. reading or talking about it
- Sprinkle yoga throughout your day, as Heavyweight Yoga teacher Abby Lenz says
- If you’re a fathlete like me, you may feel out of place, but yoga teachers, classes, schools, clothes makers et al. are becoming more welcoming to differently-sized people so ignore the body shamers
- Find the style, pace and difficulty level in a class and a type of yoga that suits you and your body; this may take a while; I like Kripalu
- The only teacher you must listen to is yourself; you can hurt your body if you try to do too much, and accept there are some poses you may never do
- Respect, but do not worship teachers – they are flawed, fallible, and sometimes corrupt human beings. Worship the teaching instesd. Case in point: I had contact with Bikram one time, and he was a real asshole
- Saying “Namaste” and bowing to a teacher or another student is not subservience; it is honoring the lineage of yoga and the light within them
- Hey millennials! Enough with the cutesy “Nah, Imma stay” play on words bullshit in lieu of saying namaste
- You aren’t going to hell for doing yoga, but if you’re uncomfortable with the Hindu trappings, just do gym yoga, you’ll still get benefits
- If you get your butt on the mat regularly, it will probably help, but if you don’t do it, and just talk about it, it definitely will not help
- Yoga is not for everyone, but can be done in a chair or on a bed
- If you are just going for the “yoga buzz,” you’re missing the point
- You probably will not become enlightened and still need to work out your drama, family, relationships, body and other issues off the mat
- Other modalities like tai chi, martial arts, repetitive motion sports like walking, running, rowing, swimming and biking can also get you into a similar mental mode of what’s called absorption, focus or “flow”
- Just do it, since “Perfect is the enemy of good” – A Dude’s brother
“Yoga is 99 percent practice and one percent theory.” ― Sri Pattabhi Jois
I’ll be the first to admit that lately my practice has been more relaxed. I’ve been biking a lot, had an extremely painful and tender knee problem, and I generally do yoga at the end of the day when I’m very tired. Someday soon I may get back to watching more of Adriene’s videos or going to a class. Or maybe I won’t, and I’m exactly where I need to be: on my yoga mat, 30 minutes a day, without fail.
Someday I may miss a day or more, like I did just a few weeks into the first month of this journey. I had been given anesthesia for a procedure so I couldn’t practice on Christmas Eve and the day before. To factor that in, I moved the anniversary forward two days. Technically, I should celebrate on Christmas Day. But 12/6 is as good a day as any. And no one who matters is grading me, except me. Same goes for you about you. Try it, you might like it!
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor or certified yoga teacher. Get permission from your medical professional before starting a physical activity like yoga. I ain’t responsible if you try it and something happens that you don’t like.
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