you can do side bends or sit ups, but please don't lose that butt
I recently got a job working at my favorite local yoga studio (if you're in the Providence area, you NEED to check out Providence Power Yoga). It's a minimum-wage paying job for only a few hours a week, but it includes UNLIMITED yoga. Score! I've been dabbling in the downward dog for a few years, and have been wanting to step my game up, but being a new entrepreneur (cough cough kinda "unemployed") for the last few months, it was impossible for me to justify the cost of a membership. So this arrangement is perfection!
The first time I practiced for five consecutive days, I not only noticed myself getting more comfortable in the poses, but I also noticed these changes in the way I approached my love life that week. Who knew?!
This was, by far, the most significant change I noticed in myself. Part of practicing yoga is learning to be patient - with yourself, your abilities, your body, your attention, etc. It's easy to get frustrated when you were able to sit lower in your utkatasana / chair pose yesterday than you are today. Or to be hard on yourself when you let your thoughts wander from your breath to your to-do list for that day. That frustration can get in your way from reaching your full mental or physical potential in either that pose or your practice for that day. Yogis are encouraged to be kind to themselves and focus on the present. Being more patient with myself in class for five consistent days helped me to apply this same concept outside of the studio as well.
Full disclosure, I sometimes find myself irrationally irritated with the boo (BE ADVISED! I will deny TO MY GRAVE ever having admitted to being irrational! If anyone tells him I put it in writing, this post will have to come down foreves, so do me a solid and keep this just between us, k?) Por ejemplo, he has a part-time gig where sometimes he gets out of work on time, sometimes he gets out early, and sometimes he gets stuck staying hours past closing. It absolutely grinds my gears when he is more than 30ish minutes late and I haven't heard from him and can't get ahold of him. I immediately envision him bound and gagged (not in a good way) and held at gunpoint, or being pulled out of his crunched car by the jaws of life. I SAID IT WAS IRRATIONAL! We get into a tiff because "why didn't he care about me enough to send a fucking text when he knew I was sitting here like a crazy person planning his funeral?" We can get into that on a different day, but what's important for this post is that, after yoga-ing for a week straight, I found myself looking at the clock, noticing that he was supposed to be home 45 minutes ago, remembering that his phones (yes, phoneSSSS) are usually dead, and going back to what I was doing. Coincidence? Maybe. But either, way, I feel less like a psycho and I'm going to guess he's appreciated the decrease in conflict.
You might be assuming that I'm going to talk about the increases in physical and muscular strength since being more consistent in my yoga practice. And yes, that has 100% been something I've noticed. I've found it easier to hold my body up in certain positions - especially ones that require core or shoulder strength. I remember being notably surprised at how capable my body was during sexy time one night when I was on top - how easily my joints moved, how stable my muscles felt, how energized I was.
However, what has been even more pertinent has been my sense of inner strength. The increased physical ability has shifted into a sense of inner strength as well. Feeling powerful. Capable. Being truly impressed with my body and what it can do. During a yoga class, the instruction will often bring a recognition to your body parts and muscles that you may never have had before - or at least I had never had before. For example, when going from uttanasana / forward fold to urdhva hastasana / standing with arms extended overhead, instructors will often break this movement down into consideration of the whole body - from pressing your weight evenly across your entire feet including your heels, the balls of your feet and all of your toes; activating your quad muscles and feeling your kneecaps life; squeezing the outer shins toward each other; squeezing your lower belly; pushing away from the ground and reaching up toward the celling, elongating your ribcage and feeling the skin on your side body stretch. Noticing how EVERY part of my body - even my itty bitty pinky toes - play a part in its functioning have made me way more appreciative of how incredible it is in its entirety. HUGE boost in self-esteem! Because really, who gives a fuck about the cellulite behind my thighs when those thighs are a strong part of a complex system of tissue that can do really cool shit like balance in a half moon pose for (almost) 30 seconds.
One of the classes I attended on my 5-days-straight yoga jaunt was focused on the idea of reactions. Practice began with the instructor challenging the class to pause before reacting that day. For example, when she would instruct us to take a certain pose, before we would just arbitrarily start to move our body in that direction, to carefully consider how to get from our current pose to our next pose. Being slower to react forced us to be more present in our practice that day. Be more mindful of our bodies and our mind. Be more conscientious in our movement.
In our relationships, we often react quickly, especially during times of conflict. Reacting quickly, without more mindful consideration, may lead to us saying things we'd regret, failing to be active listeners in a conversation, and providing emotional versus thoughtful, constructive responses. Communication can easily get defensive versus productive. I'll admit to you guys, this is still one I am ACTIVELY practicing. Taking a minute to pause before responding is hardddddd for me. But I have found myself thinking things like, "why is he saying that? what does he mean by that? what is his intention? where is this coming from?" more often than I was before I was consistently practicing yoga. It's about progress, not perfection - right?
4. flexibility, duh
I probs don't need to elaborate too much on this one. Let's just say both the boo and I have noticed some changes ;)
Are there any other yogis out there that have noticed how your practice related to your relationships? Anyone who never practiced but has been wanting to give it a shot?
P.S. You're welcome for all the pics of my feet, lol!