Yoga Every Day
This year, I declared, there would be Yoga Every Day. As a resolution, this presents three separate challenges:
1. yoga requires a bit of planning and/ or scheduling
2. “every day” is a lot of days
3. yoga classes require exercising in a public space
In order to achieve this challenge, which looms like a bit of a mountain, I would need to toss a host of habits, some unhealthy, some lazy, some simply no longer constructive elements of the life I want to lead. This is exciting and inspiring, the idea that by stretching and breathing and taking a time-out, I can change more than just the structure of each day. And, this is intimidating because every day is a way of saying “always”, with scant room for slacking off. I decided that if this yoga thing was going to happen, I’d need to confront each challenge-within-the-larger-challenge on its own.
I’ve always remembered the advice dealt by teachers before every test I wrote in school: “Read the whole paper first, figure out which questions are toughest and require the most thought and time, and start with those ones. Leave the multiple choice and quick stuff for last.” For me, this would be the time-out. Time outs didn’t exist as a parenting and behavioural coaching practice when I was small. Stepping back, breathing deeply, clearing your thoughts, and letting go of the energy that impelled you forward a second ago. This is genius, and for me, nearly impossible to achieve without effort. I keep going with just one more work task “then I’ll get some lunch”only to realise I’m becoming incrementally grouchier and less smart as a few hours click by and still my lunch sits in my lunchbag instead of my belly. That one task has slid to another and another, and since it’s practically time to leave the office for the day, taking a break at all seems like a waste of time. Cue the time-out.
If I’m going to do yoga every day, then I need to accept that time out and its infinite life-adjusting, attitude-adjusting, energy-recharging, lung-expanding power. Ok, I think I can do this. Well…I can try. Yoga and time-outs every day. Next?
Planning and scheduling. Or, I should say “not making plans and not over-extending my schedule”. It’s winter. It’s dark when I leave for work and it’s dark when I return home. My days afford few opportunities to step outside and the wing of the building where I work has few windows. I see sunshine on weekends, provided the weather forecast is clear. Right now, it’s Sunday and it’s sunny AND in a few minutes, I will step out into that sunshine and walk forty minutes to attend a yoga class. I do this every Sunday. There have only been two Sundays so far this year, and I’ll have maintained a perfect Sunday record once I roll up my mat this afternoon. This is great, considering last Sunday was January 2nd and the sweat and toxins and December 31st gin that poured out of me nearly made me barf on the parquet studio floor. But I was there.
Last night A. and I roasted a chicken and baked some potatoes and got a bottle of wine into ourselves while watching the most anxiety-provoking movie about an alcoholic woman who kidnaps a little boy in an effort to get herself out of a jam. We fiddled with our wine glasses and laughed nervously and reassured each other that getting tipsy on a Saturday evening over a nice winter supper was not a gateway to a Tijuana child-heist. Three glasses of wine on top of rich food on a weekend evening was fine and no call for concern; however, I remained conscious that, when midnight struck, I needed to be in a taxi since I need to hang upside down sweating in a hot room and tight pants today. Wine and sleep deprivation and yoga class do not mix.
Too many social plans, too many work plans, too much stuff packed into my schedule, and suddenly I can make a hundred excuses why all that shit can stay but yoga today has to go to make room for more wine and computer time and chit-chat and fucking up my spine by hunching at a desk and fucking up my liver by forcing it to process a chronic intake of flour and sugar and butter and booze. I think we have a collective tendency to frame things as “problems” and “excessive” and to punish ourselves with deprivation and diets and commitments full of absolutes. Never doing something again. Cutting out something for a period of six months. From now on. Not again. Etc. Yoga every day flirts with that profile, but is spared by the moderation it requires me to apply to everything else in my life. Still socialise but make sure yoga gets in there, too. Still drink wine but not every evening while I cook dinner and listen to the radio, because you simply cannot safely attempt a spinal twist with your head full of chablis fog.
I think I can manage this portion of the challenge, too.
Part Three. Letting go of the temptation to think all the way through class…think about things think about nothing think about the other people all crammed in the space around me. Maybe yoga every day will help with this, in a way I don’t yet appreciate. So yes, yes. I can do this part of the challenge, too.
It looks really, really cold outside. There was a storm yesterday, which has since given way to that scary winter sun. The kind where you know things look crisp and sparkly because they’re frozen and set to shatter. The air breathes like ice, and the snow creaks like loose boards under your boots. And still, yoga every day.