30 Days of Yoga

light comes through a window into a room with a green wall and a wooden floor. A yoga mat is spread on the floor with several lit candles in front of it.

It’s been a little bit since my last post, again (though I did post a video), but let’s just say that my slow December turned into a busy January (and February), despite my best efforts to maintain my slow-flow chill of winter break.

In January, teaching yoga started up again, the semester started up again for the college, planning for upcoming workshops and offerings started, and friends emerged from the winter holidays. I had to stop sleeping until 8 or 9am and start going to sleep before midnight or 1am. My ideal schedule just doesn’t seem to fit with the flow of the rest of the world.  

Over the winter break, in my month off from teaching yoga, I attended some yoga classes, and started to do yoga at home more often. I felt myself getting stale in my teaching, and felt a little bit uninspired, and thought that going to other classes and spending more time on my mat would help. 

I’ve been teaching again since January 3, and I started researching the chakra system in more depth, along with mudras to complement the postures and meditations to read to students while they hold the mudras. It’s something I’ve wanted to do, to incorporate into my classes for a while, and I decided to finally just do it, so I can build classes with greater intention. 

While I was starting this new approach to teaching yoga, I also decided to complete Yoga With Adrienne’s 30 day program, Center. I’ve tried to do her January program every year, for at least 5 years, but usually lose interest or stop doing it around day 10, maybe day 15. I’m not sure why I stall out, because I’ve done 30 days (or more) of yoga before, but for some reason I never could quite follow through with her 30 days, especially when I had accountability partners. That seemed to make it even more difficult for me to follow through, if I had to check in with other people. Weird, right? “Accountability” is supposed to be the key to accomplishing things.

I had to ask myself what the block was; why is it that discipline seems to be so lacking in my life? Why can’t I say I’ll do a thing, and then just do it? Especially when it’s something I truly enjoy, like asana and meditation practice? 

Recently, in a meditation training that I’m taking, I was introduced to “aspect meditation.” This meditation asks you to look at an aspect of your personality that you find undesirable and release judgment towards it through self-compassion. I found this particularly helpful, because I chose “lack of discipline” as an aspect of my personality I don’t like and find inconvenient. 

I spent some time with it, and, while the aspect meditation I was following didn’t take this approach, I also asked myself what my lack of self-discipline was trying to teach me. This was inspired by a revelation that came to me a while ago, after reading Sarah Wilson’s First We Make the Beast Beautiful. She wrote that we so often frame mental illness as wholly undesirable, but often disorders and illnesses are telling us things that are actually useful. Our anxiety tells us something, and so does our depression. These signals are out of proportion to the issue at hand, but they are communicating something to us. 

So, as I did my aspect meditation, I asked myself what my lack of self-discipline might be trying to tell me. What was the issue behind my inability to start and stick to a routine? 

In asking myself what my “lack of self-discipline” needed from me, I realized that I really didn’t have that lack of self-discipline at all, and that it was simply burnout. 

In a recent therapy session, my therapist pointed out that “discipline” is an incredibly masculine word, and I’ve been trying to get away from that patriarchal, hierarchical system of capitalism. Those values do not fit with the life I desire, or align with the direction I want to go. She reminded me, too, that yoga is not asana. Asana is part of yoga, but yoga is an entire way of being. Yoga is something I practice daily, even if I don’t get on my mat to do so. 

Taking this time to realize that my lack of self-discipline wasn’t a moral failing, and to accept that this isn’t necessarily a lack at all, seemed to flip a switch for me, and I found myself doing asana every day, and meditating several times a week. I found myself, once I let the pressure go, able to actually do the thing. It’s amazing sometimes what acceptance can do, and also asking ourselves what we need in the moment. What are our “flaws” trying to tell us? Are they really flaws, or are they signals?

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