At the end of last year, a dear friend asked me to join her beginning on January 1st for a daily “Yoga with Adriene” practice for the entire month of January. This was not only a commitment to my friend, but also to myself. Show up, show up, show up is a mantra I’ve practiced in regards to creativity/art within my 100 Day Projects, but showing up to the mat each evening after a long day of work was a new commitment that I was curious to explore.
Let’s be honest. I can bust out a yoga pose on top of a mountain, but I was far from having a regular yoga practice. It’s only now that I am beginning to understand the complexities and nuances that occur between the breath, body, and mind that only reveal themselves through a consistent practice.
Today marks Day 70. We didn’t stop on January 31st. We continued through February, and now through March. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned (so far) along this journey:
Accept What Is. And What Isn’t.
Some days I could easily balance on one foot, and other days I was unstable and wobbling around. Accepting where my body was in that moment, on that day, was also an opportunity to practice self-compassion. With a daily practice I could clearly observe how my body changes day to day. One evening I could feel energized, sturdy and strong, while other days I felt shaky and uncoordinated. Instead of responding with my knee-jerk reaction of self-judgement, I am learning to be curious and gently ask myself, “That’s interesting. I wonder why my balance is so different today from yesterday? Was it because of my long run? Am I well-rested and getting enough sleep?”
This concept of ‘accepting what is and what isn’t’ also revealed itself in my personal relationships. Instead of trying to change another person, adopting the mindset of gentle acceptance and compassion transformed my perspective, allowing me to release expectations and move towards others who more genuinely reflect my own values.
Notice the Asymmetry. Then Approach the Neglected Side with TLC.
When you do asanas on both your right and left sides, it’s always interesting to see how one side feels different from the other. Maybe your right side is always noticeably tighter and less flexible than your left side. In life as well, rarely are things in perfect balance. Usually one part of life demands more of our attention, and other areas are neglected. I’ve learned to give that particular side (of my body, and also in my life), a little more TLC and time. Giving it more attention, space, and time allows it to release held tension, soften, and open up. Sometimes the parts of our life that cause us the most pain, discomfort, and tension are actually just asking for some much-needed attention and care.
There Is Power In the Breath.
In vinyasa, I’ve learned that each time I inhale, it’s a new beginning. A fresh start. With every exhale, it’s a letting go. An empyting out. This daily yoga practice has taught me the power of my own breath and its effect on my physiology. I’ve been tuning into my body’s cues. When I feel a sense of negativity rush through my body, I breathe it out. I have unraveled on the mat, tears streaming down my face feeling the sweet surrender and forgiveness and letting go of all toxicity. I have inhaled the goodness of all the positive people in my life, inhaled the joy of new experiences, inhaled the feeling of fresh beginnings and felt that rush of life force and energy. There is power in the breath.
Yoga has been my beautiful teacher in these past 70 days. Whether or not you decide to roll out your mat, I hope you show up for yourself each day in a special way. That’s why I practice. May we always accept what is, and what isn’t. May we tend to the parts of ourselves that need attention and TLC, and may we never underestimate the power of our own breath.