11.10.2010

A Long, Hard Journey to the Mat

Yesterday was one of those days.  It being my only free day of the week, I had a very involved practice planned, but had much to do in the way of life-management (read: cleaning, banking, laundry, homework) and used my list of To-Dos as a way of delaying my practice.  It went something like this:  I should practice early.... but I think I'll vacuum first.  Okay, it's still early... but wait, I should write that paper first.  Okay, NOW I can do yoga... but I'd really rather practice on a clean towel.  I'll think I'll do the laundry first...  It's getting late, I better practice, but I'm hungry.  I think I'll have a snack first...  It went on like this all day and my mood continued to worsen until, finally, it could not be delayed any longer.

And even then, it took me an hour to get moving.  I was feeling drained and defeated, even though I'd had a productive day, so I began in supta baddha konasana, propped up with pillows, under a blanket with a towel draped over my eyes.  I stayed there for 15 minutes before moving on to my pranayama practice.  After 30 minutes of pranayama, I laid down for another 15 minutes in savasana. I considered staying there, surrendering to the low place I'd found myself in, but something told me to keep going.  I took a bathroom break, redid my hair, and otherwise dallied for a few minutes before finally stepping to the top of my mat, feet together, hands at heart center, ready to begin.

It was not until that first vinyasa, inhaling the arms up, lifting the gaze, that I came into my body, into the moment, ready to do the practice.  In that simple action, one I've performed thousands of times, something clicked.  I woke up.  I saw the possibilities of the practice in a flash and they excited me.  I was reawakened to the spirit of the journey, suddenly quiet, open, and ready for whatever might lie ahead.

And what lie ahead was some damn good yoga.  I had an amazing practice.  It took me a while to realize how strong I felt; there was a constant, subtle resilience to every pose, a true sense of ease.  I experienced unencumbered joy in the grounded lightness of my being.  I expressed this through the poses.  It was a beautiful practice, with a couple of 'firsts.'  I practiced moving from Vasisthasana directly into Hanumanasana for the first time, which was quite delightful.  And get ready for this... I did my first free handstand in the middle of the room.  It was sort of a happy accident:  I had just finished my handstand practice by the wall and was moving on through a half-handstand vinyasa, when, independent of my will, my legs shot up and I found myself standing on my hands with no wall to fall back on.  Woops!  As soon as I realized this, the This is Scary, I Must Fall Now reaction kicked in, and I toppled over to the floor, feeling somewhat betrayed by my renegade legs but otherwise unharmed.  Still, I'm glad that's over with.  Maybe now I can start working the handstands in the middle of the room more often and learn how to fall a little better. 

After my practice, I felt like a different person.  I am repeatedly amazed by my own ability to forget how the practice heals.  Yesterday, the practice was what I needed most, yet I denied myself the pleasure all day, somehow continually justifying my procrastination, looking for the answer elsewhere when I knew exactly where to find it all along.  Human nature?  Self-destructive tendencies?  I don't know.  What I do know is that the more I practice, the harder it is to forget how it grounds me, empowers me, and connects me to the uncolored reality of the moment.  This is why daily practice is so important.

I have often fantasized about doing my asana practice right away in the morning, at the same time every day, in order to avoid the situation I found myself in last night.  I have not turned that fantasy into reality because my schedule is too irregular, or so I tell myself, among other cleverly conjured excuses.  Currently, my practice happens at different times on different days, usually in the afternoon or early evening, but I wonder how my days might be changed if I carried that feeling I get from my practice with me from the very beginning.

So I pose these few questions to you, readers, in the hope of gaining some insight:

*  Do you prefer to practice in the morning or at night?  Why?
 
*  Are you able to do your practice at the same time every day?

*  If not, is it difficult for you to maintain a daily/regular practice?

Please leave your answers in the comments.  I'd love to know how other yogis keep the prana flowing.

5 comments:

  1. Hmmm, funny how sometimes we spend so much energy avoiding the place our hearts really want to be...

    It took me a lot of self-disciplining, because I am NOT a morning person, but I now practice regularly in the mornings from about 6:30-7:30. If I don't get a good night's sleep or for some other reason I don't practice in the morning, then I practice before dinner.

    Funnily though my morning and evening practices are really different... In the morning I like to practice ashtanga-style. If I practice in the evenings though I almost always go for a flow practice with music etc.

    It is sometimes difficult to maintain a regular practice, depending on what else is going on in my life and how it affects my schedule (e.g. big deadline = not enough sleep). And then I might travel and only get the opportunity to practice asana once or twice in that month! But I always come back into balance and come back to a regular practice eventually.

    Cause I figure, if you can't be flexible about yoga, then that's just silly. ;)

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  2. I thank to your blog Mr. Blogger,
    Your blog is extraordinary thanks for share.
    Best Regarding.
    Yoga

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  3. I'm all over the place really. What I really would like to do is a morning practice that has lots of time, so I don't have to rush, but I already get up early and hate giving up my "alone" time in the morning. So I'm all over the place. I've been considering lately going to bed earlier and starting work later so I could have a good 1.5-2 hours to really practice in the morning. I know it would feel amazing and I could have my coffee afterwards on the train. Its really about giving it a try for a couple of weeks and I'm sure it would just become natural. The best thing about a morning practice is that nothing can get in the way of it. For me at the end of the day I'm tired and I have a million excuses not to practice, including that I need to eat, and then shouldn't practice for a couple of hours.

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  4. I have two little girls, so I roll out my mat every chance I get. I would love to practise in the morning, for the obvious reasons, but my girls get up at 5.30h, sometimes sooner, so it's quite impossible. So I do my practise at 20h, each day when I don't teach, after I put them to bed. But I still dream of getting up at 6am and do the practise till 7.30h, and be a different person all day long...
    Best to all

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  5. I am doing a Teacher Training this year and would love to get up at 6 and practice till 7. Its still a dream and on a typical day I do it at 10am when the kids and hubby are gone. Werid, I know that getting up early would be a great idea.... its just ... well.... discipline.. Tapas! Hmm, food for thought. Sara (Sydney, Australia)

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