A Different Yoga Practice for 2016

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a lovely first full week back to work after the holidays. My Spanish classes were awesome this week, as the kids were rested, but I’m not going to lie – I went back to work Monday morning with the WORST COLD. I had the pleasure of teaching a yoga class on Monday to 32 faculty members who showed up, and then Shane and I went to the Warriors home game that night, where we had first row seats! I felt lousy all week, but I had a lot to be happy and excited about. This week was a humbling reminder to take the good with the bad, and to never expect things to be absolutely perfect, because life simply doesn’t work that way.

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Some of my resolutions for 2016 go hand-in-hand. “Managing expectations” and “being kinder to myself” definitely go together. I was angry at myself for having gotten a cold going into the first day back to school, which was a big day with both the yoga class and the Warriors game, along with getting myself prepped for a first week back to school with the kids. I drank so much kombucha over break, so many turmeric soups and tonics, and I still got sick! Any reasonable person would tell me that at some point, it doesn’t matter how healthy of a lifestyle you’re leading— you’re bound to get a cold (or two) in the middle of the long dark winter! In this case, I should let myself off the hook a bit- I ate and drank every healthy thing in sight, got plenty of sleep, and still got sick. It was bound to happen. I need to manage my expectation of being able to control everything, which we know we never can, and need to be kinder to myself. Getting angry at oneself is actually a weird reaction when getting a cold, when you think about it.

These resolutions also apply to yoga. When it comes to “managing expectations” in yoga, it’s better in fact to not have any expectations at all. That’s the point— to just be in the moment. There are certainly some asanas I expect I’d “be able to do” by now, whatever that means, and I still can’t. I have no asanas on my list of New Years resolutions. That wouldn’t make sense. My resolution for 2016 is to still devote myself to asana practice, but to remember that the asanas are only one of the eight limbs of yoga. Nowadays it tends to be the limb that gets people interested in yoga, but once you start studying yoga, you realize that there is a lot more than just down dog. My resolutions are to:

– stay dedicated to asana practice, but realize it’s not the only thing
– consistent commitment to meditation / breathing, during which I can create space to reflect on the sacred / think about ishvara pranidhana (the fifth niyama)

Ultimately, my experience in the 200-hour yoga teacher training program with YogaWorks led to a shift in what I used to seek from yoga versus what I love about it now. I initially came to yoga three and a half years ago for a sweaty workout, which is totally what I got. This vigorous engagement really made me fall in love with the asanas. However, I had a feeling that there was more to yoga, so that’s why I sought out a teacher training program. Now, I still want a good workout, but I don’t feel the need to sweat so much. I’ve found some rigorous classes where I can still look presentable enough to go out to dinner afterwards, and I wake up the next morning feeling like I did something, and enjoying the alignment benefits (today being a perfect example of this).

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Something else I crave in my yoga practice these days is the profound positive effects I’m beginning to reap from a very basic meditation practice. Breathing on the mat on my living room floor with candles (seated quite close to the heater, because my apartment is freezing!) provides me with a space I don’t get during a typical day to ponder over the things I love. I’ve been sitting for about ten minutes, which is a world record for me, and then the meditation flows naturally into my personal asana practice. I think about the people I love, I think about my students and colleagues, I think about the food I eat, and I think about my yoga teachers and all their teachers, and the long lineage that comes before them. (My teachers talked about this many times in teacher training, and I love this.) I also think about ishvara pranidhana— surrendering to a higher power— I drop down into a quiet space and contemplate the ways in which we are all so irrevocably interconnected. It makes me think about food choices, waste choices, clothing choices, lifestyle choices, etc. I don’t expect any answers to come up, but it’s important to hold a sacred space to explore these important thoughts and questions.

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So in 2016, I’m going to chill out a tiny bit. Sure you’ll still see my pictures here and there of my favorite arm balances (I promise) but now the photos are coming from a different place. What was purely postural before now has substance and some understanding of yoga philosophy behind it. I look forward to learning more over my lifelong study of yoga.

Let’s love ourselves more in 2016. Love yourself more, and you’ll be able to love others more. If everyone worked on that, the world would change! If you’d like to share your resolutions, please comment below!

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One Comment on “A Different Yoga Practice for 2016”

  1. Lisa January 11, 2016 at 06:38 #

    I love it!

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