Forget all the usual benefits of yoga – I have never been as diligent about sweeping and mopping my floors!
To be honest, I don’t know why I started the 30 day challenge this year or why I actually kept up with it (only missing a couple of days, which I’ve since completed). Yoga has never been my thing – I lack the flexibility and balance needed for yoga. Yes, that’s a good reason to do yoga, but as someone who’s “failed” or not quite managed to succeed at just about every fitness related skill or endeavor, I’ve got to tell you that having some basic abilities is key to success. Yoga is something that I really struggle with because I struggle with just about every freaking pose and transition. I’m too fat or too stiff or too weak for yoga. I can’t hold downward dog for long, I can’t step or hop up to the top of my mat in one movement, and I can’t reach the floor in forward bend. These aren’t mental challenges I need to overcome, they are physical “impossibilities” that I hope to eventually be able to overcome, but that are problems right now.
Even with cheerful, welcoming instructors who encourage you to take your time and do things at your own pace and ability, it can sometimes be very demoralizing to practice something that involves a lot of moves you physically can’t do (yet). Convincing yourself to do something that you know you’re going to “fail” at is hard. Convincing yourself to stick with it is effing challenging and sometimes emotionally demanding.
The reason I’m trying to stick with it is because I’m trying to get back in the habit of doing something for my body each day. I figured that yoga would be a good way to get to know my body again, while also providing gentle stretching, relaxation and a bit of a challenge. Plus, it fits in with my 2018 motto quite well – I’m trying to embrace “slow” this year by slowing down, being more thoughtful, reconnecting with myself, etc.
I’ve managed to stick with daily yoga for January and I’m trying to continue that in February. It hasn’t been easy – I’ve missed several days already – but I’m still working on developing the habit. Much of my success so far has come from the freedoms I gave myself:
- I’m allowed to try everything
- I’m also allowed to say no and move to a pose that I’m comfortable with
- I’m allowed to quit a practice if it’s making me feel frustrated, sad, angry, or demoralized
- I’m also allowed to do an easy-to-me practice if I need a break
- I’m allowed to count a quick 5 minutes practice as my daily practice if that’s I’ll I’ve got in me that day
- And, I’m allowed to do lots of extra yoga on the weekend if I want to “catch-up”
I started the year with Yoga with Adriene because she does a great 30 days of yoga challenge each January, and she’s so welcoming and forgiving (she’s good about reminding us that we don’t have to do the hard version of each pose and that we’re allowed to struggle). There was one practice that I quit in frustration and one that I was mad at right to the end, but most of the days were fine – not easy, but a level of challenge or modification that I could deal with. And, she put together a playlist for February which I’ve been following.
While I’m trying to avoid unnecessary purchases this year, I’m trying to do whatever I need to do to ensure success, so I bought new yoga blocks. I also made easy-to-access space to hold my yoga gear and I found a couple library books that I think will help with pose modification and, maybe, motivation:
- Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love your Body by Jessamyn Stanley who is a plus size yoga superstar. Her book has poses, sequences, and body acceptance – all things I could use some help with.
- Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories From Yoga Renegades for Every Body by Melanie Klein. This is a collection of personal essays. It’s not the kind of book I’d usually pick up but there is a plus size yogi on the front cover and the summary states, “Explore how body image and yoga intersect with race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, dis/ability, socioeconomic status, age, and size as part and parcel of culture and society.” Yes, please!
I hope to make yoga a habit – maybe not a daily practice, but certainly a most-days practice.
Do you do yoga? Do you know of any good novice/plus size friendly resources I might find useful?