Thinking Yogi

The intersection of two loves: yoga and writing.

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Posted by on in Yoga

When I was a newly enamored yoga student, I spent many a failed morning trying to coax myself onto the mat at home. How could I create the same heightened experience I'd had at the studio when I might go into downward dog and see an overflowing laundry basket behind me? Because my yoga practice had been so influential and transformative, I felt like each time I stepped on the mat I needed to have that peak experience. I had over-exotified my practice, made it too precious, thereby ensuring that it was not my own but rather something only my yoga teacher could gift to me during a studio class.

It took time and lots of trial and error to figure out how to consistently be able to practice at home, and the most helpful thing in that process was to take away all expectations of the magic of yoga and bring the practice back down to earth. Here are a few tips that helped me when I was having trouble getting motivated:

1. Don’t change. Practice in whatever clothes you are already wearing. Pajamas, work clothes, it doesn’t really matter. You’re not going to do splits or a backbend, so there’s no need to wear fancy yoga gear. The process of changing into your ‘yoga uniform’ can put unnecessary pressure on you and gives the practice too much importance. Doing Warrior 2 in shorts and a t-shirt makes yoga feel within your grasp.

2. Keep it short. Aim to practice for 5-10 minutes at first. Pick 1 or 2 of your favorite poses, then gradually build up your practice a bit more. For most of us, a max of 20 minutes at home is plenty. You want your practice to be fun rather than feeling guilty that you didn’t do an hour and a half as you would in class. Save the long practice for your time at the studio.

3. Skip the yoga mat. Sometimes if I just sneak in a stretch or two, I find my body wanting more. That first stretch or pose is the hardest, so if you ease into it you’ll usually find the next one comes more easily.

4. Relax. Whatever poses you pick, make sure you add Savasana to the list! Lying down to relax for a few minutes after practicing will reinforce the message that yoga practice feels good and is something you want to continue. It’s a good time to observe how even your brief home practice affected your body and mind, so savor these few precious minutes of quiet and stillness in your otherwise busy day.

This concept of making yoga less intimidating, less exotic, is one of the biggest goals my husband Zach and I had when opening Bloom. I vividly remembered how as a new student and self-professed yoga fanatic, I found it difficult to reconcile the transformative experiences I had on my mat with the rest of my life. The transitions can be almost comical - one minute I'm overwhelmed with sensations of peace and wellbeing in savasana, the next I'm yelling at the kids to stop pinching each other. I love the idea of making yoga just another part of daily life. It doesn’t have to be compartmentalized, it's not some ideal state of being to aspire to only when I have time to make it to the studio.

I like to think of yoga as just another self-care routine, like brushing my teeth or eating a good breakfast. It is an ongoing process of creating health in the midst of, rather than in spite of, my daily existence. After I've done my 5 minutes I'm more aware of my posture, my breath is deeper, I chew and taste my food rather than gulping it down, and if I'm lucky I hang onto just a little of that post-savasana peace (at least until my next refereeing obligation). It may be messy, but the process of letting yoga practice filter into daily life normalizes that which I once put on a pedestal. Here's to taking it down, dusting it off, and putting it to good use.

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Posted by on in Writing

It's been a while, so I may be a bit rusty.....After four years off I'm feeling the Thinking Yogi itch again, so I'm reinventing my original monthly column on Bloom's website and giving it a new home here.

My hope is to explore and share the intersection of two of my great passions: yoga and writing. I'll also sprinkle in a little bit about motherhood, life in Lincoln Square, exploring creativity in daily life, staying healthy and active, etc. I hope you'll join me on my blog-a-riffic adventure!

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