Today’s gentle practice had no planks, downward dogs or vinyasas, which I have to say I was rather grateful for, both physically and mentally. My wrists appreciated the break, and I think it’s good to mix things up a bit just to stop the mind going into autopilot. Adriene’s point about having a rest day was a good one. Taking the time to occasionally slow things down, perhaps via a slightly shorter practice as in this case, makes it far more likely that I will show up to the mat each day with a positive mindset.
The accompanying email asked us to “consider what it feels like when you are kind and gentle with yourself. Commit to this so that you can be kind and gentle with yourself, with others and with the Earth.” As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m not particularly good at being kind to myself, but I am slowly getting better at it. Doing so during a slow, gentle practice was particularly challenging, as the longer I stay in poses, the far more likely it is that body issues will be triggered, which then leads to the exact opposite of kindness and gentleness. Those sorts of thoughts did pop up today, but I feel like I managed to disconnect myself from them pretty successfully. It’s easy to joke when someone tells you just how important the breath is, because breathing is something we do every day and basically take for granted, but focusing on smooth, steady breath can genuinely have a pretty amazing effect on those dark and negative thoughts.
On the subject of the breath, one thing I tried to focus on today was the body/breath connection in that in certain poses, when you breathe deeply enough, you can feel the skin of a particular part of the body stretching (which part depends of course on the pose). Not only does this feel good physically, but really focusing on that connection brings the mind, breath and body onto the same page. Something I’ve found in trying to deal with BDD is that my mind can sometimes feel entirely disconnected from my body. Persuading them gently and persistently to be in the same place – just to be there, without any judgment or running commentary, for however short a time – isn’t always easy, but when it works the sense of calm and peace it produces is quite amazing.
The practice ended with an invitation to expand this kindness to ourselves to others and to the world. I do think that if you’re kind to yourself, being kind to others probably will come more easily, and goodness knows the world needs some kindness right now.