December 29, 2010
I am a mad yoga scientist. I like to notice what’s going on in my mind and my body when I get on the mat. And then experiment with what comes up. I ask a lot of questions, depending on the day and my mood and energy level. What will make my practice more comforting, introspective, prayerful or challenging, fun, stimulating?
In the past year, I’ve noticed an overarching theme. Slowness. And I like it. Sometimes I wind up two or three postures behind the rest of the class, as I take the time to finish the inhales and exhales before moving on. I feel I both deserve and owe it to myself to really breathe, fully and for as long as it takes.
This slowness comes after years of being as quick in my asana practice as physically possible. Unfortunately, one of my wrists developed a painful tenderness. It forced me to listen and also to slow down and skip those movements and postures that aggravated it. It healed. I’m also now giving myself permission to not do as much as I used to five years ago. Let’s face it, our bodies change. It’s up to us to honor those changes, decipher what needs to happen and make peace with it all.
Mostly, I think the slowness in practice is in correlation with an appreciation of my pace off the mat. Many yoga teachers like to talk about taking your yoga off the mat and into the world. It can be easy to get on your mat and flow through sun salutations, triangles and cobras, doing what your limbs are used to and feel comfortable with. It might be a whole new story after you leave the studio or the gym. Can you go slow when you’re back in your work pants and heels? Can you breathe deeply when you have to wait through three cycles of a traffic light? I know it can be hard work, but I say, embrace your own pace.
Accept that your yoga practice will move and evolve with you through the years. As your body changes, as your life changes, flow along with it. With all that being said, I offer you a restorative yoga posture.
Restorative yoga is ideal when you feel tired or stressed, and during times of major life happenings, like big holidays, vacations, marriage, divorce, job change, deaths or a big move. And I believe it to be a nice space to investigate what you need and where to go next.
Supported reclined bound angle pose: (supta baddha konasana)
It will take you a few moments to set yourself up properly, but it’s worth the effort. Use rolled-up towels, blankets and pillows. Sit and bring the soles of the feet together. Create a diamond shape with your legs. Place pillows or other props underneath the knees. Place a rolled-up towel on the ground for your spine to rest on. Use a double-folded blanket under your head and neck. Make sure your forehead is higher than your chin, and your chin is higher than your breastbone. If you get chilly, find a blanket to place on top of you, and cover your eyes with a weighted eye pillow or a simple eye mask. Set a timer and stay in the posture for 10 to 15 minutes, if possible. (See a visual of this at gazette.com/life.)
Jennifer Mulson teaches yoga at CorePower Yoga and Gold’s Gym in Colorado Springs. Read more Live Well columns and watch yoga videos at gazette.com.