After a busy couple of weeks and a long lie in last Sunday the last thing I felt like doing was heading out to a yoga class. I am not even talking about a vinyasa class where there is an expectation that my muscles will work hard – maybe even ending with sweaty knees and feet (yes it still amazes me that this can actually happen; why would my feet get sweaty!). It was a Sunday Yin class. I dragged myself into my yoga gear and out I went.
The relaxed version when you don’t feel up to it
I wish I was someone who could practice anywhere, on my own and every day. But at the moment I am still early enough into the journey and practice of yoga that I enjoy, and benefit more, from a class environment. So, not feeling like it, I got over the worst bit; which is basically getting into the appropriate clothing and swinging the yoga mat bag over my shoulder. When you don’t feel like something but you know it is going to make you feel great, relaxed, energetic, sleepy or even just content the best self talk is talking you into it.
My Yin class made me feel sleepy but a good sleepy without the drained feeling my long weekend filled with food and wine. It was just what I needed. Lots of deer pose onto a bolster and even frog was just what my hips and body needed. When we reached shavasana I was almost floating away. Thankfully I didn’t end up in a sleepy haze of occasional snores; someone else did though and it made me smile whilst in my state of yoga blissfulness. To end the weekend it was just what I needed. Having floated back home I lit an incense stick and just melted onto the sofa with a book. I forgot all about not feeling great.
Incense = relaxation
It is odd how I now associate incense with relaxation and yoga. I think back to my youth when people bought incense and listened to Pink Floyd. I am convinced that every generation will do this. I remember the smell was overpowering and so that phase in my life didn’t last long. So now I am into my forties, I would never have expected to buy some incense and light it alongside a little Bhudda and candles in appreciation of the history and practice of yoga. I buy a very mild one though that is purported to be the smell of the Maldives. I am not sure if this is correct, having never been, but it smells lovely and immediately associates my mind with relaxation (see link below if you fancy trying it). The incense in classes, when they use it, has created that association. It is an association I am happy with (unlike my chocolate association with…well with anything).
The harder version when you don’t feel up to it
After my Sunday Yin the week started off busy and I still didn’t feel like doing anything other than dropping into a heap on the sofa when home from a long day and what felt like a particularly long commute. So the though of my booked vinyasa flow did not appeal. But, again, it is the thought of something that is the hardest to get over. So on with the gear and the yoga mat bag and out I went. My self-talk has done wonders this week with my activity levels.
I passed the teacher who is such a lovely lady on the way in and she said not to worry, she was looking at a slower (almost Hatha) class to focus on getting into mermaid or king pigeon. Bliss! Well bliss that it was not going to end in sweaty knees but maybe not blissful in that I have found it really hard to even catch my foot in any pose like this due to my tight quads.
Just rolling out your mat and lying on it before the start of class feels like unwinding from the day and getting into your own space. I have talked about mats before and it really is important to get one that you love. My one feels great and has enough grip to make me feel secure in most poses whilst also being eco friendly (see link to it on Amazon at the bottom of this post). So this was one unexpected benefit as I felt like I would make my way through the class and no matter how well I did, I was doing well to have arrived on my mat.
The class was surprisingly wonderful. As mentioned, my tight quads (probably could add a list of muscles to that assessment) have never done well in things like Pigeon pose and I have been no where near able to stretch into allowing my foot to place in things like Mermaid (I usually would use a strap). But this time I kept with it and we did a lot of chest openers to really allow the chest and back to stretch into the pose. This was probably most surprising. Not focusing on my quads, but on other areas, meant the final pose was achievable. Lots of downward dog but with a focus on the chest rather than on the hamstrings, on sidewards bends and humble warriors before extended time periods in pigeon. I use props a lot to ensure I relax into things. So having blocks under my bum whilst in pigeon really helps me to feel stable in focusing on the stretch. When I finally lifted into mermaid and, joy oh joy (did an internal whoop whoop and high five) caught hold of my foot, I kept a block in front to rest my hand on so that I wasn’t adding to my pose with the balance. Yoga is like that. No matter what you do you can achieve great progress whilst still having a way to go. I will eventually use no props but it doesn’t matter that I did. The achievement was brilliant for me. This is definitely going in my yoga diary with a little star.
Yoga every damn day
All thoughts of not feeling up to it, ‘I can’t be bothered’ and ‘I just need to go home and rest’ were gone. Instead, whilst both classes at the start of the week were very different, both made me forget about my lethargy. Yoga isn’t for everyone but now that I do it I honestly don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it. I am still doing 3-4 classes a week (maybe only 2 if particularly busy) but my aim is to get to the point where I am doing yoga every damn day. Even when I don’t feel up to it. I know that even when I don’t feel like doing it, I will do it 🙂