Yoga has a sly, clever way of short circuiting the mental patterns that cause anxiety.
~ Baxter Bell
This month I am finishing out my exercise habit experiments by starting a daily yoga practice. For the past nine days I’ve been rolling out my blue yoga mat in our living room and doing between 5 and 15 minutes of yoga. I’ll continue to do this for the rest of the month. As I wrote in a previous post, I have no expectations or ideals for this practice. My only intention is to get on the mat and do yoga every day.
I am mostly doing yoga in the morning to wake up my mind and body, but if I miss a morning practice, I’m fine with doing an afternoon or evening practice. But I’m giving preference to the morning.
Because I have no expectations or ideals, I don’t really have any set goals, other than to do this habit every day. I don’t have a specific class, type of yoga, or any goals to be more fit, flexible or healthier. I know that some of these things will likely happen, but I’m trying to avoid setting any ideals. Again, I simply intend to do yoga every day during June.
A couple years ago I took a yoga class in college and it was a wonderful experience. I was the only guy in the class and probably the least flexible person there, but I learned a lot about myself. The first couple of days in class I wanted to compete with everyone. I wanted to be the best yoga-er in there. But as the class progressed, I learned that yoga is not a sport or a competition. It is a mindful, personal practice. I don’t think you have to get all hippy, hipster, girly, buy tight pants, or spout fortune cookie sayings to practice yoga. Sure, you can get into the deeper history and spiritual aspects of yoga, but I enjoy the feeling of a connected and centered mind, body and soul after a great yoga session.
Because yoga is a slow and deliberate practice, it forces you to be in the present moment and be mindful of how your body feels and moves, how your breath feels and what your mind is saying. It is an amazing feeling to be in the moment like this.
I know that you’re probably working on your own habits or life changes right now, but will you join me in doing some sort of yoga during the month? Don’t worry if you’re not flexible, in shape and don’t even worry if you don’t have a yoga mat (although they do help immensely). Yoga is a great way to meditate, center your body and mind, and get your whole body moving. Almost anyone can do it if you start slowly and simply.
The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind.
Because yoga is so popular, it is very accessible. Yoga mats are inexpensive, easy to find and easy to store. They don’t take up much space and are great for making your practice even better. There are also literally thousands upon thousands of videos, apps, classes and coaches/trainers that are available to teach you and guide you through a yoga practice, no matter what level you’re at. Personally, I’ve been enjoying the Gaiam Yoga Studio App. I can download Yoga Classes that vary from 4 minutes to over 30 minutes in length and have classes for all skill levels. There are tons of videos available and it tracks which classes you do on a calendar. Sometimes they lower the price, but even at $3.99 there is enough content to make it worth it. It’s a universal app, so the $3.99 gets you the iPad and iPhone app. It’s also available on Android.
The most important thing to remember is to get up and just do yoga. Any way that you move your body is great and yoga is an excellent way to get moving. I hope you’ll join me this month in practicing yoga.