Yoga and Mindfulness
Or: How I'm Pretty Sure I'm Just Along for the Ride
A few years ago, @caitycat and I found a Youtube channel of a lady that posted regular yoga practice videos of various kinds -- her name was Adriene, and aptly -- the channel was Yoga with Adriene. We really enjoyed the videos -- she kept them fairly casual, emphasized following your own breath and practice at your own pace, dabbled into the 'hocus pocus' / 'chakra-esque' side of yoga, and sometimes her adorable dog would walk into the scene. Eventually, we stumbled onto the fact that she tends to have a '30 Day Yoga Journey" to launch each new year. We tried it for the first time a couple years ago, and made it to Day 17 or 18 without getting distracted by what's going on in the rest of our lives and forgetting about the practice.
Over the holidays, we were both aching and limping and generally sore. Too much of who knows what, and not enough of things I probably don't even think about. We resolved to get back in to a yoga practice, and then we remembered that there was probably a new 'journey' starting in a few days. Happily enough, there was. We found the Day 0 video on New Years Day -- just a 'quick little orientation' to get you dialed in to the rest of the month. The soothing music and calming voice was a very gentle reminder about what's to come. I recalled some 'loosey goosey' moments, and some other moments where I was legitimately getting @exhausted from how hard I was pushing myself.
We're fortunate enough to have a living room space in our 1 bedroom apartment that can open up quite a bit -- after we fold the table down and shuffle a few pieces of furniture around. So we got some space cleared out, started drinking a little bit of water, turned the very classy electric fireplace on, and got ready for Day 1. We rolled out the mats, popped a squat, turned the vaporizer on (I'm a pretty firm believer in the fact that there are few things finer than getting a nice 'head stone' before a workout, and focusing on form and feeling the muscles), and got ready. Almost immediately, Helo came over and sat between our mats (a smarter person than I would have grabbed a photo of this -- it was adorable) and started focusing pretty intensely on the television (he likes to watch stuff with us).
Regardless of how much better other peoples dogs are -- I really enjoyed yesterdays session. It started with a focus on the breath, which I feel like I greatly needed. It's probably a combination of many factors, likely including my generous indulgence with cannabis beforehand, but I found myself disappearing into my breath more than a few times. When we passed that point and began to practice some stretching and movement, I believe we started with a sit-down side-bendy thing -- my back cracked about a million times, and I couldn't help but let go of a sigh of relief that must have been bottled for what felt like 16 months.
Most of the remainder of the session was spent sitting down -- a vinyasa that was similar to a sun-salutation felt really good and continued to connect with the breath. A few downward dogs, and the standard vinyasa that brings you through planking to d-dog, and then it was time to start resting and connecting with the breath again. The wind-down at the end of a session is almost always one of my favorite parts. I'm not a huge believer in most of the 'minds eye' and 'spirituality' that a lot of yogis bring to a session -- but I enjoy and appreciate a bit of mindfulness, and an intentful practice of 'remembering to return to the breath'. CHOOSING to return your focus to the breath. Though, after some talk about 'listening to your minds eye' I found myself falling inward with though, and considering how likely 98% of what a human body does (generally manage your breath, beat your heart, blink your eyes, react to stimuli, digest food, perform peristalsis -- that kind of stuff) and that the 2% that is my conciousness is probably just a handy evolutionary feature designed to improvise and get through complex situations -- the end thought was a confusion about whether it would be better or worse if I tried to be involved with more than 2% of function... Who knows?
And then it was over -- and ready to pack it up, yet unpack everything.
If you've been humming and hawing about starting a yoga practice, I would pretty strongly recommend jumping into this series and trying to follow along -- regardless of your skill or experience with yoga. I'm going to try to write a short journal entry after each session moving forward as another kind of practice -- so stay tuned.