Experts of neuropsychology say it takes 21 days to create a habit unless of course, it is a strong habit like making exercise part of your daily routine. Habits are both behavioral and neurological and can be tricky to build. You know where I am going with this, right? The longer you practice making time for yourself, the longer lasting the routine will be. If ten minutes is all you have to breathe, stretch, clear your mind with yoga poses and drink a glass of water then you are succeeding!
So far in this series we have touched on the history, philosophy and benefits of making yoga a part of your life. Maybe you are coming up against some barriers or frustrations. Perhaps, you notice your body is arguing with you about a particular stretch. It’s ok and totally normal to feel uncomfortable with a new practice or if you have stepped away for a while and are just returning to it. My suggestion would be to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Drop into the process, let whatever comes be a guide. I would offer this connection to your body is the most important one you will ever cultivate.
So, let’s breathe for a minute.
Side Plank Pose/ Vasisthasana
I suggest beginning with plank pose from the previous week as this series is designed to build on a practice in a fluid and continual progression. From plank starting with your right hand lifting it to the ceiling and opening your chest by inhaling and taking a moment to align. Make sure to lift the hips to strengthen the side body. This is a very effective at engaging the core muscles. You may wish to position one foot in front of the other for balance rather than stacking them. Pause for three breaths and switch sides moving slowly and intentionally.
*Modification: Instead of balancing on one hand, you may lean on your elbow. Stack the joints so elbow and shoulder line up.
To transition from side plank to boat pose you may move back into plank pose, drop your knees and sit all the way back on your heels to give your feet a good stretch. Then you can bring your feet and legs in front of you.
Boat Pose / Paripurna Navasana
From a seated position give your legs a good shake and feel into a straight back. Lift one leg at a time holding your foot toward the ceiling. When ready lift both legs up to belly button level. Ideally, this seated pose is also a balancing pose that calls on the abdominal muscles as well as the quads. If your hamstrings are tight you will know it in this pose. As you raise your knees to belly button level your abs engage straighten your legs slowly for full boat pose. Hold for three breaths and release. This pose may be repeated if you like.
*Modification: For those of us that are busy professionals working in a seated position at a desk all day, we may experience more of a challenge with this pose. Keep your knees bent, spend more time practicing deep breathing to stretch the psoas and remember to keep your back straight and tail bone slightly tucked under to ease pressure on the low back.
As we build intensity your body will feel many things. Your mind may have a lot to say about it and all of this is a part of the shifting process required to create new habits. Your brain is rewiring its network of previous ideas and forging new frontiers. It requires a tad more patience than we think we have at the moment, but you can breathe through it.
At the end of your practice this week, try sitting quietly focus only on your breathing, heartbeat or where you feel relaxed in your body. Take three minutes to clear your mind and notice the progress. Offer yourself a moment of gratitude for showing up. This is the most immediate way to reframe discomfort and a simple start to a meditation practice.
Until next time, Namaste.