Updated: Sep 30
I feel it's so important to remind ourselves that we all have to start somewhere... I hope this blog post inspires you to not be so hard on yourself, we all start beginners.
Moving back to basics might sound a little easy, simple or even boring. I promise you, the more times we can be honest in our practice and start from 'day one' from time to time the more we can learn. This might be a simple tweak in alignment, it might be a restructure of a posture or it might be the refining of something we know 'off by heart'. Going back to basics really is a wonderful place to reconnect to the foundations.
I have used the reference of a book when explaining the progress and understanding of our Yoga practice before. At the beginning it is like opening a book we are unfamiliar with, some or possibly none of the pages make sense, we continue reading out of interest and then may or may not put the book down for a few months/even years. We revisit the book from time to time, and it slowly starts to make sense, we enjoy the chapters, but we also have the freedom to put the book back down. As the years go by and the more we get drawn towards the book, everything slowly starts to make sense. The read is easier, the words flow and what we read resonates.
As we start a practice, we watch yoga videos, we read books, we attend studios, we enjoy different yoga styles, we connect with different yoga teachers, we immerse ourselves into the book of life. Some classes, some teachers and some styles aren't for us, which is ABSOLUTELY OKAY! The main thing is that we have given something a go, we have read the 'pages', it doesn't resonate at that moment in time and we close the book for a while. Then after a while (no matter how long that may be, a day, week, month or year) we attend a different class, it all makes sense, the atmosphere is just right, the postures feel great, you feel in tune, YES, you are in the moment! The book is open, we are hooked, chapters fly by.
We will return to the 'book' (practice) many times over many years, the most important thing is to acknowledge the chapter you're at at that moment in time. Do we gain anything from skipping the beginning and getting to the end? Is the end worth it without the beginning?
The beginning is where we ALL start, even the well read, the advanced, the geniuses.
Starting where you're at is always going to be the perfect foundation for any practice. Our emotional state and even something as trivial as an argument in the day will have an impact on your physical practice whether it's the same day or a week after, our bodies carry everything we feel physically. Hurtful words and anxiety can make us withdraw which causes tightness and discomfort across the chest, rounded shoulders and shallow breathing. Your body is shaped by every experience it goes through. Have a look at the heart opener blog if that resonates with you.
As you roll out your mat, give yourself the time to just sit (or lie down) you don't need to do anything. Within that time start to notice how you're feeling, notice is the mind is busy, even give yourself the time to notice what you are thinking about. How does the body feel physically? It is tired, in pain, uncomfortable? These things need to be allowed to influence your practice, once we acknowledge how we feel we can adapt, we can adjust, we can work through anything that comes up.
Here are a few helpful tips to help you start where you're at, the more we can slow down the more we can feel, the more moments in stillness the more we can listen.
First things first BREATHE! Your breath is the foundation, the 'quite literal day one', the simple technique that will guide you through your practice whatever style it might be. Take a moment whenever YOU need in your practice to close your eyes, take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out. Reset, tune back in and relax.
Remind yourself of why you started or want to start yoga, is it to improve your flexibility? To reduce stress? To gain a deeper connection to yourself? Whatever it might be always remind yourself once in a while. Your benchmark can also move, you can change your intention anytime.
No one else can do the work for you, no one else knows your body like you do, no one feels emotions the way you do. In life we navigate our own path and our yoga practice gives us the tools and techniques to manage stress, to improve the health of our body and to rehabilitate injuries and even trauma. You do you!
Practicing doesn't (and shouldn't) be a place of pushing yourself for the attention or approval of others, sure we can get a boost out of a little playful competition, but just notice whether your practice is for your body and mind or a photo on instagram.
Acceptance plays a big role in our practice, when we come to a practice we might already have an injury that might hinder our motivation and trigger a little apprehension into pushing ourselves forwards. Have you ever found yourself holding back a little? It's very normal for us to feel an emotional or physical block when we are moving our bodies into different postures. When we have an injury we need to accept where we are at in that moment. If it's painful we need to slow down, take a step back and give the area all the love, care, patience and attention it needs.
Do what you feels right when you come to your yoga mat. If you're practicing at home sometimes we might feel like lying down for an hour, do it! This plays a huge part to play in building a strong foundation for our yoga practice and lives (not the lying down bit!) But actually FEELING into what we NEED & WANT. We do have to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones to grow, but this needs to come from a place of trust and authenticity.
Let go of expectations. This is a big one! I know it's fun to practice advanced postures, to push ourselves into achieving something wild, to give ourselves a pat on the back when we finally make progress BUT also settle into your mind that some poses we might never be able to achieve. This isn't for want or trying it might just have to do with our individual alignment, I know I personally won't be able to do deep backbends because of my lordosis (deep lower back curvature), this is something I have came to accept over the years and I wont even attempt them. My body doesnt like it, so I listen to what it really needs. If you're interested in understanding the differences in alignment & anatomy this is a must watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve_GUyEHdfI
Last but not least, give yourself the time to think, move, breathe, process. Life is already a busy and fast pace and we can all get caught up and pulled in many directions of attention. To help us build a deeper connection to ourselves sometimes we need to take a big step back and have a moment (or two). How are you feeling today? Right now? Can you learn from this moment or emotion? Taking time out gives us the chance to deal with our own stuff, as mentioned above, no one else can sort it for you. Patience, time and trust.
Stepping back to basics can be a really powerful place and I hope this blog post inspires you to take a step back once in a while. Stand or sit right this minute, hand on heart, a deep breath in, ask yourself how you feel. Whatever you're feeling allow it to be accepted and the driving force to move you forward, we all have the choice to move in the direction we want, sometimes the only thing holding us back is ourselves.
If you have any questions or would like any more guidance, please get in touch!
I would love to hear from you.
All my love,