“You are the finest, loveliest, tenderest and most beautiful person I have ever known – and even that is an understatement.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Yesterday I taught a “slow flow” yoga class and it was SOOOOO GOOD!
Most of the yoga classes that I teach are focused on a strong, physical practice: it’s 60 to 75 minutes of HARD work, sweat (in 105F), and determination to move, flow, and get stronger and leaner for people, generally, with a moderate practice. This class, in contrast, was slow, meditative, and in a “warm” room (90F). It was a refreshing shift. And I came away from it as recharged and happy as if I had taken the class.
I focused my teaching on reading the room from a different perspective: rather than seeing how much farther we could go, I decided to see how deep we could get. For a while I was unsure how it would go, I’m a new teacher for them, after all, my style is a little different from what they’re used to, and it takes time to build trust.
But by the time we reached hamstring stretches, about halfway through class, they were hooked. And the rest of the practice they went deep into themselves, had a gorgeous savasana (final resting pose), and came out with happy smiles and relaxed faces.
I think any practice that is focused on the body deserves to be approached from different perspectives: first, from the effort and hard work it takes to stay in shape; and second, from the release and rejuvenation that comes from deep love. Slow flow yoga is one way to express and cultivate deep love; other ways include all those feel-good things, like getting your hair cut, a spa pedicure, facial, or massage — those things require you to relax, to accept your body, and to accept care.
You see, yoga is as much an internal practice as it is physical. And while the physicality is SO so important, the internal practice is what helps you get further in your physical practice.
And don’t mistake relaxation as “easy” — getting deep within yourself is REALLY hard work. It takes a great deal of self acceptance, bravery, a belief that you can go to the depths of your being, greet that person, and know that you are going to be okay with what you find.
- Find a simple slow flow yoga video on YouTube (yoga with Adrianne is a popular choice, she has a series called Yoga for Healing).
- Listen to the podcast Live Awake. I love listening to it in the last few minutes before bed, or while I’m stretching on the floor at the end of the day.
- Spend a month reading a few pages from Starry Eyed by Mandy Arioto (or a favorite poetry book, or a favorite self-love book). Promise to read only a few pages. Read. Absorb. Think about what you read. Maybe write about it. Soak it in. Know that it’s not about finishing the book, but about what you get from the few minutes each day that you read from it. (Comment below if you have one to share!)
- Walk. Listen to a podcast while you walk. Listen to your breath while you walk. Listen to a favorite album while you walk. Think clearly and deeply about something you are interested in. Feel the air on your skin, feel the stars above you, the ground beneath you. Appreciate it all.
- Stretch. Don’t call it yoga. Don’t call it anything. Just sit in a comfortable spot, maybe with a nice view, and reach for your toes, open up your hamstrings, stretch your hips. Check out this post for a few of my favorites.
- Put on your favorite clothing. Whether it’s super comfortable or wicked fancy, its all valid. Whatever flavor you choose, own it.
What are your favorite ways to get into yourself? What are your favorite ways to love yourself? What do you do to get comfortable in your skin? Share your favorites below!
For several years Ali Edwards has started her year with a word. No resolutions or promises to break, just one little word® (OLW) to check back on for guidance or reflection. As she describes it, “You live with it. You invite it into your life. You let it speak to you. Follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities.” After a challenging 2016, my choice for 2017 is to become SECURE. Each month, I’m focused on a different aspect of securing who I am, where I am, and what we’re doing. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. For more of my one little word, follow my tag one little word.
MOPS, or Mothers of Preschoolers, is and international organization that encourages and equips mothers of young children to realize their potential as mothers and leaders. “We’ve all been placed in this time and place in history, as the tribe of women who are raising the world. And the beauty of it is that we don’t all have to agree with one another but everyone is in and we all need each other.” This 28-day challenge is coupled with reading, a daily truth or dare, and videos and resources that allow us to connect, discuss, and dive into this topic of woman-hood and mother-hood. Come back daily, or read along in this thread, to see my posts and stories for each day.