No yoga yesterday. I had a very persistent migraine, and although there are all sorts of yoga practices for migraines out there, and I’ve read pieces extolling the virtues of yoga for dealing with the evil things, I’m just not going to get even the gentlest practice done when my face hurts and I’m feeling nauseous. Luckily, throwing some drugs at it (sumatriptan is my saviour) and getting lots of sleep sorted it out, so I could get back to it today.
Adriene made the point at the beginning of this practice that fear so often stems from worrying about the past or the future, from thinking about things that have happened or will happen, rather than from the present moment. This is so true. I find that anxiety is more often than not triggered by worrying that I did something wrong, or that the consequences of particular actions will be difficult or unwanted, or that a certain aspect of the future is uncertain or unknown. Focusing on now, on the single moment that we exist in, cuts out that noise.
The same is I think true of a yoga practice. It’s easy to allow the mind to think back to and judge a pose you just did, for it to be giving a running commentary on how that wasn’t a great cobra when you’ve already moved on to downward dog. Similarly, the mind can run forward and worry that it won’t be possible to continue to hold a pose, that at some point soon you’ll have to lower your knees in plank or make your chair pose slightly less deep. Bringing the mind back to the experience that you’re having in a particular pose right in that moment can stop all of that.
That probably makes it all sound very easy, and oh my goodness it isn’t (not for me, anyway). My mind is a constant vortex of “what ifs” and “if this happens then…” and “if I’d done this instead of that…” to the point where it’s frankly quite exhausting. It would be great if I could jump onto the yoga mat and suddenly become serene and present in my high lunge or half split, and maybe one day I will, but for now I really have to focus on bringing my mind back to my breath and the present moment as gently as possible. My ability to do that successfully shifts on a day to day basis (and even sometimes within the course of a practice). Today it felt a little easier, for which I’m very grateful.
Adriene said something today that really resonated with me: it’s not so much about how we do the poses, but how we deal with our frustrations. This is one of the most important things that I’m trying to take from yoga out into my life. On the topic of frustrations, I felt that I was much more patient with myself in attempting crow pose today. That’s this one [image via PocketYoga]:My crow still isn’t flying (my upper body strength is woeful), but I did make some progress, and perhaps most importantly I was kind to myself while doing it. I accepted where I was today, rather than beating myself up for not being better than I am. I do that a lot (the standards I set for myself are often unobtainably high), so I think I have a lot to gain from trying to cultivate that patience and acceptance off the mat. That’s not a quick or easy thing to do when your instinctive attitude toward yourself is one of criticism and judgment, but baby steps!