Practicing in a way that supports YOU

I’ve been struck recently with the expectations that I place on myself in my yoga practice. And I don’t think it is just me… ;)

Historically I have had reeeeaaallly high expectations of myself. I am great at achieving and placing impossible demands on myself. And these demands that I put on myself can often translate in to my practice. Because really my yoga mat is a little microcosm of my life. But this week due to a work pattern I am forced to slow down a bit. Listen in.

And my practice this week looks like a lot of child’s pose, the odd downward dog, and plenty sitting still. Feeling the earth beneath me. Reminding myself again and again to breathe into my body.

A part of me wants to reject this. Push through. Do the ‘hard’ pose. And then my monkey mind chips in, telling me that I’m not enough. Not ‘good enough’ at yoga. And so, once again, I’m encouraged to ask myself the question – why do I keep on coming back to this practice? What does it give me?

And the answer that comes is about gentleness, nurture, self-care, compassion. Learning to feel into what I need. Learning to trust my own body and the wisdom that it carries, not what someone else is telling me. This is my yoga. So often those of us who are even the teeniest bit self-critical (which is probably everyone I know in some way) will find reason after reason to push harder, listen to the outside world or our crazy high expectations of ourselves rather than listen in with compassion.

And what I try to remind myself day after day is – yoga can be the arena where you do something different. Our yoga mat can be the place where we let go of self-criticism and try self-compassion instead. Where we stop listening to the outside world or that pesky mind and instead listen to our bodies.

And when we do that, we might have a practice that looks wildly different to the one we thought we would have. If you are breathing and feeling, you are doing so much more than you think. And you are certainly doing yoga. The handstand doesn’t matter. (I promise.)

The lesson for me this week (again!) is to listen. To learn to give my body what it needs. To trust it. And with this I am more able to support myself, and consequently to support others on their journey in this crazy world. So perhaps see if you can practice in a way that supports you. Welcome in something different. Your body knows what it needs.

I love this quote from Rachel Brathen:

It's something I intend to practice every single day.

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