Today’s practice was the first using my SHINY (not actually shiny) NEW YOGA MAT! This is fully deserving of the capital letters. The new mat is significantly thicker than my old one (old on top, new underneath):
Using my old mat, I had to put a foam block underneath my right knee whenever a pose required that I put any pressure on it. (I damaged that knee in university – no, not a hardcore sporting injury, I fell up a flight of concrete stairs at a party – and haven’t been able to put any real pressure on it since. On the upside, I didn’t spill the drinks I was carrying.) Using the block worked fine, but it was quite annoying, particularly during quicker flows. I don’t know why it took me so long to order a new mat, but I thought that this year’s commitment really deserved a nice physically comfortable base. Using the thicker mat today was just fantastic. It was great to not have to be shifting blocks around and to be able to focus more on the movement between poses.
So, to the substance of today’s practice: alignment. I felt so much better coming onto the mat than I did yesterday and was able to take a much calmer, kinder approach to the poses. From a physical perspective, I really tried to focus extra hard on the tiny shifts in the body that improve alignment in any given pose. It really is amazing how ensuring that your shoulders are down, or that your tailbone is pulled in rather than having your bum sticking out, can change how the entire body feels. The poses weren’t all easy, far from it. As per usual, I struggled a bit with the one-legged balance, but I know that I’m better than I used to be, particularly in having a whole body experience in the pose, rather than focusing on holding my foot, thinking about where my knee is, making sure my arm is straight… etc. I do love that Adriene actively applauds falling out of balancing poses. It recasts my lack of grace as a learning experience to be honoured and smiled at rather than something to be royally p*ssed off about.
Adriene’s accompanying email today was an interesting one. I have to admit that I struggle a bit with concepts like “destiny” and the “higher self”. They just feel a little too “woo” for me, at the moment anyway. On the other hand, the idea that “yoga is meditation when we take the time to learn our bodies” struck me right in the heart. Learning my body is one of the main reasons why I’m trying to build a regular yoga practice. I feel like I’ve been out of sync, or just plain ignoring, my body for so long, that I really need to take the time to learn what it wants and feels, what it can do, what it can’t do, and what it might be able to do one day with enough perseverance and patience. I guess what I’m working towards is a kind of alignment: aligning how I feel about and view my self and my body with reality.
With today’s practice I’m one week in to my 300 days of yoga and am feeling so glad that I made this commitment. The uncertainty as to how 2017 will pan out continues, and it’s great to have something consistent to focus on that doesn’t make me feel stressed as soon as I think about it. So, here’s to the next 293(ish) days!