Today’s practice was a Yoga With Adriene flow which I chose pretty much purely because my house was so cold and Adriene had filmed this particular practice on a beach. Perhaps I thought I could suck some of the warmth through my laptop screen. However I may have chosen it, though, it was a great practice and exactly what I needed today – relatively short and incorporating both flow/strength elements and some awesome twists.
I usually practice mid to late afternoon, but due to today’s plans this ended up being an early morning practice. It got me thinking about how the time of day can affect what I take from a practice. Physically, my body tends to be pretty stiff in the mornings, so I generally won’t be able to go as deep into some poses as I would later in the day. On the other hand, certain twists and stretches are perfect for waking the body up. Mentally, my mind is generally much more of a blank slate first thing in the morning. As soon as I get started on my day, I’m thinking about multiple things at once and when I practice later in the day, I come to the mat in the context of that mental chatter. I found it really beneficial to take some time to focus and just be present before kickstarting the day. It basically felt like a way to pull myself together physically, mentally and emotionally so that I could start the day from a place of calm, focus and (in keeping with this week’s theme) respect. I think I was able to carry that through most of the rest of the day, even the moments I had to spend nodding and smiling (and gritting my teeth) through some eye-rolling at my dislike of looking at my own wedding photos. (Pro tip: if someone does say that, don’t assume it’s an overreaction – they might genuinely find looking at those photos difficult and so feel somewhat annoyed and belittled at said eye-rolling. Just saying.)
It seems that early morning yoga can work pretty well for me, so why don’t I do it more often? My initial thought was “oh, it’s probably because I’m lazy”, but when I actually thought about it (rather than just going for the easy answer which is nearly always a self-criticism), I realised that a more likely answer is that I don’t think I can take time for myself until I’ve done a sufficient amount of work or enough chores to justify it. Taking that time to do yoga first thing feels indulgent, whilst doing it later in the day turns it into some sort of reward for having had a productive day. It’s essentially an extension of the fact that I instinctively see taking time purely to do something I want to do as selfish. I know on an objective level that I need to take time to do those things, but when it comes to it I always feel a bit guilty in doing so.
I guess this again feeds into the notion of respect that is one of my focuses this week. Taking time purely for myself, without feeling selfish or guilty, is a form of self-respect. If I do take that time, then I’m more likely to be able to treat others and the world in general with respect. I won’t resent external demands on my time, because I will have accepted that time for myself is just as important. That all sounds perfectly simple, but that mindset of selfishness and guilt is a difficult one to get out of. Perhaps what I need to do is challenge myself by shifting some of my practices to first thing in the morning. Working on changing my thought patterns alone would probably help, but I think to really start to shift that ingrained mindset I need to change my actions as well as my thoughts.
As for today’s practice, as the name suggested, I really was feeling good by the end of it. The house was still cold, though.