On a recent pre-dawn morning, I find myself standing at the entrance to our kitchen, about to start the dishes from the night before, when my attention is diverted to the yoga mat rolled up in the other room. I won’t say it’s calling to me, it just kind of twinkles at me. There we are, my yoga mat and me, staring one another down.
If that’s ever happened to you, you know.
It was a tough moment, fraught with confusions in my parenting and my work. With my attention turned to the prospect of a few minutes of cleansing practice, I manage to pull myself away from what “needs” to be done in the kitchen and unroll my mat. My brain is already tired, and the sun isn’t even up. I give myself grace by getting into child’s pose. No idea how long I stay there; I might have fallen asleep.
When I emerge from that pose, I feel completely different. Just putting my head down and arms out in front of me, the energy shifts, and I unfold my body into downward facing dog. My legs need some lengthening and opening, so I spend a few breaths just easing out my legs and opening my back body. Inspired to move forward into plank, I take a handful of breaths there in order to strengthen my arms, shoulders, wrists, and back. Simple stuff. Deep breaths, focused movement, about 10 more minutes of sun salutations, and I’m a different person. It doesn’t take long, and it changes everything.
Breathing deepens, mood opens, creativity emerges. Suddenly I’m jotting down pieces of a poem. The magnificence of practice is that no matter how long, it helps me touch down into self-empathy, self-respect, and reverence for the simpler sweetnesses. Each practice has a different flavor somehow.
First, practice shrinks your perspective by bringing you closer to yourself, easing your mind back to your breathing, your body, and the beating of your heart. Then, with focused movement and renewed self-respect, ideas can flow, vision clears, and new possibilities emerge. No matter what you’re experiencing currently, and no matter how long your practice might be today, the shift awaits you.