by Jo Large
I’ve always had a yoga habit (well for several years now), but even at times when I am really consistent with practice, I have struggled to keep up a daily practice. I think part of the problem is that I love ashtanga, but I also like when I practice to do a full (or at least 2/3) run of the primary series, or it feels like I haven’t done it properly. The downside to this is the time it takes – and it’s hard work, so not exactly something you can crack out and then go do crossfit straight after on a morning. The more I have got into crossfit, and the impact of COVID and not being actually able to go to my studio to practice, the less and less I have been consistent with yoga. I’m also simply just lazy and will think “I don’t have time/CBA today” and will sack it off.
But, one of the positives of getting sick and completely being floored by it, is that it’s helped me reshape how I see some things. Yoga is a good example here and I finally actually seem to have taken on board what my teacher has said for years, ha ha. By the time I left hospital, my body felt utterly broken. Crumpled, shakey and broken.
So following the weekend I was let out, I decided on the Monday that I was going to spend a few minutes every morning doing some very gentle yoga – on that first day I literally did a very slow sun salutation A and then laid down.
That was enough (was still dizzy and incredibly weak and shakey on my feet at that point) but it felt soooooo good! So I decided that this was how I was going to start every day off and 3.5 weeks later, every morning when I roll out of bed (whether it’s 2:30am or 6am – thanks insomnia!), I roll out the mat and do some yoga before anything else.
Some days it’s as short as 3 minutes, especially when I’m not feeling so good (I get days of extreme nausea, fatigue and dizziness). These days I just go super slow and really gentle. Even though I feel a bit grotty, the yoga helps and I always feel better for it. Other days when I feel good, I practice for a bit longer – the last week I’ve been adding in some half backbends and twists. I even did some of the ashtanga primary series standing sequence one day when I felt really good. This all feels a long way from the kind of yoga I’ve got used to – and very much enjoy – doing but there is no place for an ego on a mat when you’re trying to fix yourself, not break yourself.
Ironically, at the moment when I’m doing the least, I feel like I’m putting into practice the most things I’ve learned from my teachers..
– especially what I’ve learned from Char doing Mysore. It’s funny isn’t it how our minds absorb and store up little nuggets of information and thoughts, and then they one day click into place when we need them too. I’m not just talking about how to physically do postures here, but all of the stuff I have learned like breathing, and listening to your body and how yoga is not just about the movement and being the bendiest (fortunately, I’ve never found the bendiness side easy so never really had to worry about that, ha).
Doing a tiny amount of something consistently has also been an eye opener in terms of how quickly you see improvements. I’m actually able to do chaturanga’s again now and stay on my hands and toes, without collapsing in a heap at the bottom. I’ve been doing some wrist strengthening/mobility stuff each day as my hands and wrists felt especially weak (I almost snapped my hand/wrist lifting a pan of food a few days after being in hospital). I think much like I enjoy the progressive nature of ashtanga, doing my own little recoverveg (recovery for Veg!) daily version of yoga – which isn’t necessarily exactly the same everyday but is similar – I’ve also seen the progression in terms of my flexibility and strength – but also how I’m feeling generally.
It really just shows, you don’t have to do much, but if you do it consistently every day, it really does build up and make a difference.
I guess that’s true of anything, doing less but doing it more often, is going to give you a more realistic chance of engraining it as a daily habit. I also do the daily down-dog in my bedroom, literally just in my jammies, in the dark – maybe flick my fairy lights and a lamp on (so I don’t stand on the cat who usually wants to get involved too!). Three minutes – that’s all I have to give to it if I’m feeling meh about it. There is never a day when I can’t find 3 minutes to do this before I do anything else. And this is what I remind myself when I think “maybe I’ll just have a cup of tea first” or “I can’t be assed, I’ll do it later”. Nope, that’s exactly what I can’t do – putting it off is where it goes wrong.
I’m starting now to think about adding recovery training into my weeks – I also want to start adding in some fuller yoga practices and get back to doing regular ashtanga. Obviously I need to be careful as if I over do it, I risk going backwards which is a direction I am not keen on. But regardless as the extra bits progress, I’ve decided I’m going to keep the daily down-dog as part of my routine. There’s just something really comforting and nourishing about it.
I’ve always loved yoga and valued the learning from the teachers I’ve been lucky enough to have at Trika (which is where I go for yoga) over the last 3 years, but I feel like this most recent experience for me has really hammered home just how much more I’ve got from them than I ever even realised (and I thought it was loads already, ha ha). People keep telling me that I am being really positive and sensible about stuff (WHO DIS?!!!!), and I am SURE much of this mindset stuff, and how I seem to be able to action it into practice now I really need to, comes from yoga and my teachers.
The daily down-dog (which as I have written this waffle, I’ve decided is what I will call my daily 3 mins ha) isn’t about exercise or results or progress, or any of these terms we tend to attach to movement..it’s simply my commitment each day, before the world starts it’s craziness and I’m still sleepy and cosy, to be kind to myself. And it’s a commitment I want to keep for myself.
Give it a go :)
** Thank you Jo for letting us share your blog on our blog! It is super insightful, and from all of us at the studio, WE LOVE YOUUUUUU. For more of her waffles, head to www.secretveggiewaffles.wordpr...