When you’ve been doing something so long as I have (eight years as of Christmas Day 2021), it becomes a part of you. So, it’s easy to minimize it. But doing anything that consistently is a huge deal that takes a ton of discipline, intention, and dare I even say sacrifice. And while my main exercise activity is bicycling, yoga is a huge reason why I’ve been able to bike every day for two years in a row, and for over 30,000 miles total in almost six years. So today I thought I’d go into a little detail about what is involved with my daily yoga. Maybe it will help you to become more regular or even start a streak of your own.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the top tip I have for establishing or deepening a yoga practice is this: LEAVE YOUR YOGA MAT OUT. Or at least make it easily accessible. If you have the space, having it sitting there open on the floor will allow it to beckon you. “Hi! Would you like to do yoga now?” it seems to say. Such a visual clue is hard to ignore. And if there is one less thing to do, even something as simple as unrolling your yoga mat, you’re more likely to do it. At least it has worked for me, even though I roll it in half or thirds, it’s still right there.
Here are the poses I did tonight, and that I do most nights after a bike ride (I don’t know all the correct names, so sue me);
- Knee-to-nose (aka wind-relieving)
- Knee-down twist
- Arm rotation
- Straight leg
- Leg out
- Happy baby
- Head to knee
- Cat and cow
- Downward-facing dog
- Corpse pose
To this I’ve added five minutes of foam rolling this year, and five minutes of guided meditation for over two years. For that plus the yoga, I use Insight Meditation Timer. There’s a yoga setting, and recordings if you want that. Yoga with Adriene, the local YouTube star, is an option, and of course there are other teachers you can watch. Usually I just do my own thang. In the end, you’re your own best yoga teacher because you are responsible for your own body and know it best. Never do anything that hurts — that’s not yoga! Sweet discomfort, as Abby of Heavyweight Yoga calls it, is ok. But if you don’t have any experience, by all means, go to a class or watch videos. And check with your doctor before starting. You can hurt yourself. Pregnant women should do inversions, for example.
Of course a key component of yoga is being mindful, which is really focusing on what you’re doing while remembering to breath. Otherwise, you’re just stretching. Nothing wrong with that, but I try to pay attention. One thing that helps is music. I use the free Pandora but have to tell my Google Assistant speaker to mute when a commercial comes on. There’s a Yoga channel, various New Age, Spa Music, and so on. A favorite lately is Native American flute. This music goes back a long ways with me, since it was introduced to me by my maternal grandmother. Some of it, particularly Kitaro, connects me to her. For the first few years of my daily yoga practice, I didn’t use music. There’s a good argument for going without it, which I do sometimes. But it works for me.
Other aspects of setting are important, if you’re fortunate to be able to control them. I like the lights mellow and I don’t like incense most of the time. Naturally you want your yoga space to be free from interruptions like work calls, kids, pets, or partners bugging you. I like it to be quiet but there is heavy metal yoga and goat yoga, so whatever your jam, set up your space so that no one is walking on your mat or knocking on the door.
If you get to the point where you want to make yoga a daily practice, think of it as a non-negotiable. It’s like brushing your teeth. If you have doubts like “Should I do yoga?” or “I don’t feel like it today,” then a regular, not daily, practice is for you. And that’s fine — nothing wrong with regular. Many days I wonder why I don’t do that instead, but as long as I can keep this streak going, I figure the cumulative benefits are better. But to overcome negative thoughts, you may have to do some things to make sure your yoga happens NO MATTER WHAT. Get up early, stay up late. Take a nap before doing it. Split your 30 minutes into two sessions. Just do pranayama, the breathing component of yoga. The streak part is really more ego anyway.
In the end, if yoga is helpful to your bicycling practice, running, or whatever other exercise and fitness workouts you may do, then you might want to add it in or do it more regular. You may not lose weight, attain enlightenment, or ascend into Nirvana, but it’ll help with stress, tight muscles, and much more. I only wish I’d started earlier. Yoga may not be for everyone, but it might be for you.
Read all my other posts by typing “yoga” into the search bar at the top right.
If you do yoga regularly, what have you noticed? If you don’t do it regularly or at all, what holds you back?
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2 thoughts on “Asanas and Other Elements of My Daily Yoga”
I’m a passionate advocate for the benefits of yoga, and enjoy it a great deal. Got back into it recently after refusing to try virtual yoga classes as an alternative to physical classes. It’s definitely not as good as the teacher being in the same room, but miles better than not doing it at all. You said it, mindfulness is the key. And surprisingly difficult!
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I stopped going to classes years ago pre-pandemic when I realized I was my own best teacher, didn’t like to waste time going to and from classes or to be distracted, and to save money. I do use some videos by Yoga With Adriene on occasion. However, my gentle after-bike ride yoga is not very challenging because by then I’m tired. Maybe some day it will be safe to go to classes again. Good that you enjoy it!