esther m palmer

yoga every day

Remember how well my yoga + ayurveda cold remedies worked last week? I was pretty proud of that, in a humble and amazed kinda way.

Well, those remedies weren't much of a match for the flu that hit me two days later. Talk about lousy cold-season luck! I spent all of last week in bed with the most rotten of symptoms, until my fever hit on Thursday and I lost all hope of ever feeling well again (seriously, I was dizzy and delirious and didn't know what was wrong with me until it occurred to my husband to check my temperature). Luckily, my paranoia wasn't warranted and I'm on the mend.

But after my fever broke, and I felt like finally getting out of bed was now a duty, an act necessary for healing (?!), it started to sink in that I had gone nearly all week without stepping foot on my yoga mat. It felt weird. Wrong, but also not like I was given an option. I don't feel badly about not practicing (I try never to get guilty over yoga), it's just making me think. Why do I come to my mat every morning, almost without fail? Is it because I think it makes me a better yogi? or a better teacher? It does, but that's not really why.

I love mornings. I especially love morning routines. I have never not had a morning routine, nor have I ever thought about it until I consciously shoved my typical morning flow aside to make room for yoga. It took many months of refusing before I finally gave it a try, but of course, the yoga stuck. Why? Because it's the best, most pliable, most portable morning routine anyone could ask for! It goes with you anywhere, follows what you need, and prepares you to make choices throughout your day rather than take things for granted. (That, and if you have roommates who are in the shower or the kitchen when you want to be, it gives you something to do in the meantime (yoga always gives you something to do).)

Sometimes that really does feel like what my yoga practice boils down to. A pattern that has replaced many other, less mind-body-connected ones, a new version of morning coffee. I feel a little sheepish admitting that, perhaps because so much yoga philosophy is tied to spiritual beliefs, and, though much of that language is a bit touchy-feely for my tastes, that supposed-separation from the physical puts it in a "special" realm. As if it were a precious practice, only the initiated allowed. And maybe some people do think that. But I don't, and I don't think my teachers do (or I probably wouldn't have stayed with them). I think yoga is all about the body and learning how to listen to it, treat it right, and enjoy the fruits of that discipline (generally greater contentment in life). And because of this, I'm perfectly okay with my practice being whatever it is.

Unlike any other routine I've ever had, I don't follow my yoga practice, I move through it: listening, checking in, noticing what parts of my body need stretching, strengthening, waking up, or cooling down, and letting my body be the guide to the "non-physical" parts of me (like my mind). No two mornings are alike, but I don't really know that until I've gotten on my mat and taken the time to figure it out. And knowing whatever I've learned on my yoga mat, equips me to take on the rest of the day... at least a little bit better than without it.

Which is why after my week without yoga, I feel a bit lost. It's kind of a fabulous place to return to the mat from. The congestion in my head means I can't do what I usually do (lots of down dog or child pose), so I'm leaning on other tools. I'm listening more closely. And it's great to be back.

Thoughts or questions? I'd love to hear them.

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