My first yoga class was many years ago as a college student. I was so self-conscious that I got into downward dog thinking that my body just looked funny: my bony knees and small calves tapered into miniscule ankles, my arms felt simultaneously scrawny and flabby, and my wrists hurt. I grimaced my way into camel’s pose, half-heartedly attempted crow and hesitated when I heard the word “corpse” as we ended in savasana.
As I reflect on my pre-yoga days, I realize now that my skepticism of yoga as a meditative practice reflected more of my own body discomfort than anything else. I was both consumed with ego and distrusted my body. Before yoga, my body was an afterthought because I believed that my life was solely in the mind. My body was just a dumb vehicle. I was disconnected from it, and had no interest in connecting to it.
Fast forward a few years later, and I chafe when I don’t get at least 90 minutes of yoga in a day. Okay, that’s a bit much, I know. I usually only get to that kind of yoga frequency and intensity when on vacation. But lately, I’ve been trying to make it a norm. Having a yoga studio near your home helps, too!
On the days I can’t get a yoga session in, I try to incorporate yoga when I can. Here I share a few of the ways I fit in yoga into the cracks and crevices of a busy day:
- Do yoga first thing in the morning…while still in your PJs or naked. I do this when I’m rotating on the wards, and I have to be at 6:30 am sign-out. Our willpower is strongest in the morning, so getting the things you know you need to do first is the best way to go. And the morning routine doesn’t have to be fancy, either. Sometimes, I would sleep in and then find that I only have 5-10 minutes for a quick sequence. But it’s okay. Just keep going; every bit counts.
- Hip open while you sit…at work, I sit like I mean it. That is, I sit my back straight, breathing deeply and intentionally, and usually I work on my hip openers while at my desk. I bring my left ankle to the top of my right thigh while sitting, and I try to push open my bent knee. You really feel this in the hip. I’m a big fan of hip-openers so this happen often.
- I breathe…and meditate, or just pause to check-in with how I’m feeling. Keeping a yoga practice alive means taking it off the mat. So I occasionally, check-in mentally with how I’m feeling, noticing any negative emotions and letting them pass. I’ll be honest: I don’t always have the wisdom to step back when I’m in the throes of work and life stress, but when I do, I never regret it. Taking a pause creates psychological space between you and the situation. It’s a stress-reliever.
How do you incorporate yoga into your life?