Returning to Practice

Dear Yogini: I’ve gotten into the practice of not practicing. How do I return? ~ Not Moving Enough

Dear Not Moving Enough: Good observation: Yoga is a practice that requires repetition. We never complete it. We never perfect it. We just practice. You are wise to realize that when you are not practicing asana, you are choosing a different practice. Is your body longing to return to yoga? Begin by listening to your body: the aches, the strains, and the desire to move.

Witness the voices that get in the way of your returning. Personally, my inner judge often stands in my way. I shame myself for not following through on an obligation or commitment and then I never begin the work. Yoga invites you to witness your mind in action. Acknowledge your mental obstacles, greet them, love them. And then lovingly ask them to be quiet. Proceed with compassion for your inner choir: judge, victim, jury, yogi... If we judge the judge, if we judge ourselves for shaming ourselves, we compound the problem. We become lost in the cycle of monkey mind. Breathe.

So begin easily. Add a few poses to your morning break. Stretch and take a deep breath. Try this simple desk Sun Salute:
Seated Tadasana: Sit up very straight, at the front of your chair and reach your arms toward the ceiling alongside your ears.
Seated Back Bend: gently arch your upper back and let your heart reach forward and upward. Turn your gaze upward but don’t strain your neck.
Seated forward bend: Sweep your arms to the side, fold at your hips, rest your belly on your thighs, your hands alongside your feet and let your head dangle.
Seated half Dog Pose: Place your hands, palms facing down, on your desk, extend your spine to lift your head between your arms, gazing down, and roll your chair backward to stretch the armpits, shoulders and upper spine.
Tadasana: Engage your abdominal muscles and extend your spine to return to a simple seated posture.
Seated Crescent Pose: drop the right hand toward the floor, arch the spine toward the right and reach the left arm alongside the head. Change sides.
Seated Twist: take the right hand to your chair back and the left hand to your right outer knee. Slowly twist the spine to the right. Change sides.
Repeat regularly. When ready, do the same sequence standing.

Invite yourself back to class. As your body’s desire to move resurfaces, follow that longing and look for a time in your week that you can make yoga a habit. Yoga is the practice of returning, again and again and again. Breathe.