Thursday, April 29, 2010

this week's yoga practice

My yoga practice hasn't been what I wanted it to be this past week. Between working on my own papers, preparing for teaching a Master's level special education class, and grading students' work in said class, I have not made the commitment to practicing more yoga.

Why is it that it is during those times when I need yoga the most that I do it the least?

I have been attending a kick-butt vinyasa class on Monday nights, and practicing on my own the rest of the week. The problem is, my home practice becomes quite variable, depending on my time management (or lack thereof).

At the very least, just practicing a few sun salutations gets the blood flowing and the breath regulated...a few long, deep yin yoga stretches for the lower back and hips (great after sitting at the computer for hours on end)... and of course there's savasana, or corpse pose. If there's one thing I should commit to, it should be 5-10 minutes of full relaxation in savasana.

My father always used to take naps. Even before he retired and was working full time, he would carve out a half hour out of his work day to shut the door of his office, put on his eye cover, and take a nap. Then he would face the rest of the day, feeling refreshed and re-energized to get all the work done. Doesn't napping increase productivity?

I would say that savasana can increase productivity too. It's about taking a break to clear the mind and bring the body back into balance.

I've been trying to remind myself to get up every hour or so to do a few stretches -- to wring out my shoulders after being hunched as I type, to lengthen the spine and hamstrings in downward dog, to open up the lower back in a deep, relaxed forward bend.

But I have to admit that I sometimes neglect savasana. Whether it's the worry that I might fall asleep and end up dozing off for an hour, or the difficulty in giving myself permission to relax. Not a good thing.

Yoga teachers do say that savasana is one of the most difficult poses. It sounds ironic, because don't you just lay there, close your eyes, and breathe?

But in savasana, we try to be completely relaxed, yet conscious. In savasana, as in meditation, thoughts may come and go but the mind just observes without reacting or attaching. And that's the challenge that takes practice.

The mind is a challenge. It's in the mind where I hear all this self-talk: "oh, I have to do this... I have to remember that..." etc, etc.

I remind myself to focus on the breath, to bring me back to that place of stillness and clarity. That place where the breath is the only thing happening right now. It's not easy! It's not easy to let go of the inner scheduler, the inner taskmaster, and most of all, the inner critic.

I find that one way to replace that self-talk is to silently recite some words or mantras. Or even a simple phrase on which to focus the mind. Like "let go".

Inhale, "let."

Exhale, "go."

So I try to let go of worry. Let go of the negative self-talk. Even just for 10 minutes. And when I come out of savasana, I never regret it.

How do you practice savasana? I'd love to hear.

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1 comment:

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