“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” (Chinese Proverb)
What’s your favorite yoga practice or pose?
During National Yoga Month, people all around the country celebrate yoga. According to the Yoga Health Foundation, National Yoga Month is “(a national observance designated by the Department of Health & Human Services) designed to educate about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle.”
September focuses a spotlight on practicing yoga as a means to improve one’s health and overall wellbeing.
The two biggest reasons I hear from people about why they don’t sustain their yoga practices is that they “don’t have the time;” or that they’re “not flexible enough to do yoga.”
But both of these reasons are fantastic excuses for actually showing up to practice yoga regularly!
“I don’t have time for yoga.”
If you feel like you don’t have the time to include even 5 or 10 minutes of yoga practice in your day, it’s a great bet that you’re running on empty and overtaxed, overworked and stressed.
Of course, if your mind is running wild a mile-a-minute, you might find it difficult to settle into a reflective and slow-paced practice. You might find yourself drawn to a speedier, more physically demanding fast-paced practice, often called a Vinyasa flow.
This is okay, of course! If burning off some steam in a challenging class helps you relax and get out of your head, by all means you should do it — but it’s good to start balancing periods of intense activity (yoga-based or otherwise) with periods of conscious relaxation, too.
“I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.”
For the “I’m not flexible” reason for not practicing yoga, I believe that this is actually a great argument for showing up to practice. The only way I know of to increase functional flexibility is to work at it diligently and persistently.
Both fast-paced and slow-paced (and everything in between paced) yoga practices will gradually help you maintain and regain flexibility if you make them a part of your life and routine.
Benefits Beyond the Mat
Add to all of the above that practicing yoga isn’t just about regularly engaging in a series of asanas/poses to move our bodies through. It’s so much more than that!
Practicing yoga regularly helps us find a place where we both live our lives and engage in our formal practice with steadiness and ease. We learn to balance this with exploring our edges without leaping beyond them. We strive to cultivate wholeness and okay-ness within ourselves exactly as we are in this present moment and from moment to moment.
The yoga path challenges us to not just practice on the mat during a designated period of time every day or every week. With body and mind less stressed, a regular yoga practice enables us relax more easily into being who we are in each moment and into flowing along with the stream of living, complete with all of its ups and down.
In other words, we learn gradually from our formal yoga practice how to practice yoga everywhere, every day.