Are we working too hard at our yoga practice?

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I love using therapeutic yoga to help people move out of pain and toward healing and recovery. My clients and students are awesome. One recurring theme I have noticed is how hard they believe they need to work. In fact we are all working really hard. All the time. It doesn’t seem be enough to walk our dog for 30 minutes a few times a day we have to run a marathon. We don’t just eat sensibly most of the time, we feel we have to do a major cleanse to ‘get healthy’. Instead of enjoying a slow and mindful yoga practice we need to push hard, sweat and leave a practice feeling like we ‘worked out’.

There is nothing wrong with marathons, cleanses, or a lively yoga practice. When it becomes the only way we can feel good or worthwhile it can cause problems. The quest to recharge our energy levels has become as super-sized as popular fast food restaurant portions. I see the results. People resigned to moving in chronic pain or with injury because they didn’t realize it doesn’t need to be that way.

One client in particular, Dr. Sarah, really stands out for me. She came to see me after surgery to remove an appendix which had started to necrose (the tissue died inside of her). She didn’t really believe that gentle movement would help.

“Gentle “therapeutic yoga” was recommended by a neighbour and I met Civi.  I have to admit that although I liked her and her philosophy, I wasn’t initially convinced that the “gentle” things she supported for my body were doing much of anything! I was still in “no gains without pain” mindset…”

It seems shifting our mindset is critical here. Dr. Sarah kept going:

“… within each week between visits progress seemed to occur.  I was feeling less pain and more activity and energy.   It was as if simple gentle movement and avoiding the physical “barriers” promoted progress!   It was a paradox of sorts.  It was as if my wrecked body was discovering alternative paths to strength and mobility!  I think I was learning to listen to my body and to allow it to find the new routes without forcing anything.”

Now Dr. Sarah can put socks on, garden, go for long walks AND she didn’t need a super-sized routine to get her there.

The bottom line is we don’t need to add more stress to your life by making everything a big event. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want to run a marathon. Just take a little time everyday to do one small thing – like walking your dog – and enjoy it. Love what you do and do it with a beginner’s mind. Notice what’s going on in you and around you. And save the super-sized event for a treat.

For today’s practice find a comfortable seated position (I mean comfortable) and try this short practice to press pause on the pushing and trying so hard. Allow yourself to find a more ease-filled state.

  • Bring your awareness to your breath. Don’t change anything – just breath and notice for 8-10 cycles of breathing in and out.
  • Continue to breath and while holding your breathing in your awareness see if you can notice your heart beating. Take 8 – 10 cycles of breath.
  • Continue to to breath while holding your breathing and heartbeat in your awareness and see if you can notice gravity. What points of your body are in contact with a solid surface. Can you notice that solid surface holding you up? Take 8-10 rounds of breath.
  • Relax your attention and take another 8-10 rounds of breath. What did you notice?

Love to hear about what you discovered. Message me.