Aah, strength. It’s a feature of almost every single physical activity programme out there (usually in terms of “get ripped!” “six-pack!” “toned arms!” etc). I’ve done many of those in my time, but have never really stuck with them for very long. Yes, it’s encouraging when you start to see results, but it always felt like something was missing. I might have seen physical changes in the mirror, but I didn’t feel any different when I looked at my reflection. Ultimately, it’s all very well focusing on physical fitness and strength, but if you need to work on your mental fitness and strength and don’t do so, the former is only going to get you so far. Obviously everyone’s experience is different, but for me personally, given that I have some deep-seated issues with physical appearance, simply trying to change that appearance without trying to change my attitude towards it isn’t going to work.
All this means that today’s practice perfectly exemplified why, for me, yoga has been such a brilliant discovery. Today’s accompanying email said:
“When we become strong and aware in our inner world, we are able to move with strength and awareness in the outer world. The body is a reflection of that. When you are strong in body you are able to move with more ease, yes. But it has to come from the right place. When we look in the mirror we should be able to really FEEL that strength, not just see it.”
That focus on the starting point for strength being internal rather than external really clicked with me. Yes I can see and feel that I’m getting physically stronger thanks to yoga (holding those planks becomes a little easier every time), but it’s the connection between that strength and a developing internal strength that, for me, is so important.
This practice also tapped into a particular, shall we say, sticking point for me when Adriene asked us, at the very beginning, to think of something that we loved about ourselves. That’s not something that I’m particularly good at, as I don’t tend to think about myself in that way, but I can see why it’s a useful thing to practice. Given that I laughed as soon as Adriene said that, I decided to go for my sense of humour (which, to be honest, I do think is pretty good). I guess the thing to really focus on here is that thinking about this didn’t feel as uncomfortable as it might once have done.
I really enjoyed this practice. I’m finding it much easier to settle onto the mat and leave everything that’s happened during the day and whatever I have planned off to one side. Focusing on and moving with the breath is also becoming an easier mindset to drop into. I’m also starting to enjoy poses that I’d previously found frustrating, such as the Warrior poses, which I find it’s much easier to settle into and enjoy when I focus on small points of alignment and on the full body experience. This practice also featured Pigeon, which as I think I’ve mentioned before is one of my all-time favourite poses. To add to that, I was able to make some progress in lifting my back foot from pigeon, which felt a lot easier today (although, that could partly be due to not having tried it since I got my new yoga mat, which is a hell of a lot kinder on my knees). That made me smile.
Today’s was one of those practices that made me feel very grateful that I’m able to spend time doing yoga each day (well ok, most days…). It sounds a bit overly-sentimental, and that’s not something I’m prone to, but there it is.
With only ten days of Revolution left, I’m starting to think about where I’ll go next. I’d prefer to have a plan, rather than just pick a practice each day, which is what I was doing towards the end of last year. That’s all fine, but I feel like I need a bit more direction. There’s a huge and potentially very confusing world of yoga out there, but I’m nothing if not thorough, so hopefully ten days will be enough to decide on my next step!