Week 1 – the practice
Even before the new year rang in, I started to ask myself questions around my personal health and wellness practices; What do I need? What is getting in my way? What, where and how do I need to help my body, mind and heart feel healthier, stronger and like my old self, only better? It seems like every year I make plans to quit this or change that and repeatedly I find myself two weeks in saying, “Screw it! I’m fine with the way I am. My husband loves me, my family loves me, people tell me I’m doing a great job.” And yet, I’m not happy nor do I feel healthy. So this week, I sat down and took some time to truly define what it is that I can do for myself so that I can feel healthy and fully alive and awake in my body, in my head and in my heart in the coming months.
The first intention that solidified itself was a commitment to my daily asana practice. More than just postures for flexibility, balance and strength, my mat practice helps me interpret my energy levels and helps me catch my breath – literally. It’s like a moving meditation but one where I’m watching myself move in the concentrated and precise effort. As much as the postures help to enliven my body, the coordinated movements synced with the breath gives rise to a quiet mental strength that helps me understand how, where and when aspects of each pose land in place. There’s like this slow and skillful unfolding in each second of each breath in each movement. As corny as this sounds, I envision myself unfolding into each pose like the petals of a flower gradually and effortlessly revealing the delicate ambrosian space within. I don’t know, but whatever it is, it makes me feel better. And as a side bonus, regular practice helps me feel strong.(I love feeling strong). But in order to feel strong enough to practice, I have to eat right, sleep right, and routinely engage in self-care practices.
Speaking of self-care practices, my family and I discovered a beautiful beaten path in our neighbourhood that we now hike frequently with our pup. Walking in the woods is probably my next favourite thing to do next to yoga. It feels so good to get out in the fresh air, rain or shine, and to a have path less traveled minutes from our home is even better. When things are quiet under the canopy of the woods, again I engage in somewhat of a meditative movement practice. Slowing my pace, I open my senses to the sounds, smells, and sights all around me. The other day I stopped and stood under a stand of magnificent pines and listened as the frosted snow covered needles and branches crackled like static electricity in the whiff of the winter breeze.
I’ve also made a promise to myself to spend less time surfing and aimlessly scrolling this year and more time reading, writing, and studying Yoga and Ayurveda philosophy. I’ve begun picking up one of my books, (this week it’s been Yamas & Nyamas by Deborah Adele) and reading and pondering a passage or chapter. Sometimes I listen to an inspiring podcast or a few minutes of an insightful Audible book. It’s fascinating how the lessons you thought you understood expand into deeper meaning when you revisit them again and again.
Lastly, I have pledged to allow myself to make mistakes. Allowing is a practice in softening. As easy as it might sound, softening takes an incredible amount of mental strength and practice especially when it comes to myself – I can be so damn critical and judgemental. Know what I mean? As I enjoyed a few glasses on wine and pieces of cheese the other night while watching our Junior Hockey team go for gold, I smiled and let myself enjoy the treat. I may have been tired and cranky the next day, but at least I knew why and could adjust my day accordingly. Practice makes progress, not perfection.
In recap, as 2021 unfolds, I aim to :
- Eliminate gluten, again. (I LOVE bread. I tried a GF homemade bread recipe the other day… meh, it needs work).
- Stop snacking after 8pm, including wine and cheese.
- Drink more tea, eat more whole foods and support local producers when possible.
- Read more, non-fiction and fiction.
- Take baths and practice Abhyāsa (I’ll explain that another time).
- Hike more and maybe even give a go at a trail running again.
How about you? What kinds of practices are you regularly repeating? Do they support a routine that reinforces the best you?