I’ve got a big confession to make – I can’t do yoga anymore.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. I can do yoga, but it’s of the restorative and meditative version rather than the physically active one.
Yesterday, I was in the studio, planning on doing some work and realised that I had left my laptop at home. And there were 2 hours until day care pick up. So I rolled out a mat, put on a yoga DVD from my studio stash and practised. Or rather, I tried to practise. It was really really hard. Usually, when I practise by myself, I do a few sun salutations, a few balance poses, perhaps some hip openers and then I cruise into restorative poses and lounge around on bolsters.
But this time, there was a DVD playing and it was hard. Really hard. By the second time through the sequence, my triceps were burning from chaturangas, my wrists were a bit sore from one too many side-arm balances and my thighs were burning from time in crescent lunge. I think I managed the first 20 minutes of the DVD – not bad for the first time in a while.
And I realised, that I’m just not yoga-fit at the moment. I’ve been focused on building a mindfulness and meditation practice and haven’t been doing much asana practice. Looking back, I’d say that it started when my little boy was born. I practised all the way through my pregnancy. I was still doing a full body chaturanga when I was about 6 months pregnant (definitely not recommended). I taught my last yoga class when I was about 36 weeks pregnant and the students could see my baby kicking me.
Yoga works different muscles to running or cycling – and it definitely works different muscles to gentle walks, carrying 15kg toddlers and sitting at a computer. I’ve seen superfit athletes come to classes and struggle so I shouldn’t beat myself up. They’re always surprised by the strength required.
It’s challenging to admit that I’m not fit for asanas at the moment. I’m too scared to go to Muriel’s class because I might spend half the class in child’s pose that might destroy my super-yoga-woman image. But I need to swallow my pride, jump in and slowly build up.
I guess that’s the thing – it’s always a slow build back to fitness. I know that with time, practise and respect for my body, I will get there. In the meantime, I’ll keep reminding myself that asana practice (the physical part of yoga) is only one of the 8 limbs of yoga. Meditation, mindfulness and breathing techniques are also part of the whole yoga system. It’s very easy to get caught up in the physical side and be striving to do handstands or full chaturanga or some other complicated super-human arm balance.
So remember – spend some time in child’s pose rather than pushing through. Your body will thank you for it. There will always be another day & another class so you can slowly build your strength and grow your practice.
As the Ashtanga Guru, Pattabhi Jois said: “Practise and all is coming.”