How Yoga Changed My Habits

Find Your Flow

Connecting life journeys to Yoga sounded so “new age” to me…what did that even mean? So many people, and by so many, I really just mean me, were turned off by yoga and its philosophy at first because it seemed like it either meant you were joining some weird hippie cult or summoning some dark evil spirit that takes over your body and forces it to contort in all sorts of angles…

And it wasn’t until I “found my flow”, (that phrase even makes me roll my eyes, did I actually say that?)…that I saw that link.

And I’m going to explain this to you the best way I know how…through yoga poses.

The Routine

When I started this practice, back when I got shin splints from running without proper warm-up (as in, no warm up at all), I found a routine that worked for me…at the time. It was a series of stretches and transitions that targeted my entire body starting from my feet, ankles, and shins, working my way up to my neck and shoulders. It consisted of floor stretches and some standing ones. It was an excellent practice. It increased my flexibility, I was able to finally touch my toes. And it strengthened my core, allowing me to do headstands. It became so routine that I’d do it on autopilot.

Sometimes I would cut it down and stop at certain points if I didn’t have the time, or hold poses for shorter lengths of time to get through it all. But it was always that same flow.

In the past week or so my upper back has been bothering me. Ethan is getting bigger and heavier, “overall adult stress” is mounting, and I’m not getting as much exercise as I need. I noticed the ache one day and it started getting worse. Until I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

Our bodies are constantly speaking to us, I’ve mentioned this in a previous post. Through aches and discomforts, it is signaling that a change is needed. The more we ignore the aches and pains the more they will continue to build. It reaches a point where it’s basically screaming at you saying “pay attention to me and do something”, at which point you realize you have a few choices; ignore it and allow it to turn into chronic pain which will only get worse over time, and hundreds of dollars in specialists, chiropractors and acupuncturists and multiple prescriptions later, you’ll realize you need to start yoga. Or you can change something today. Oh, and water. Water is really good for sore muscles, I hear.

It’s so easy to chose the path of least resistance. But, change is found in our daily routine, right? I didn’t see any of this yet. I didn’t realize what needed to be done. Until I hit the mat for a typical practice.

There is a quote circulating the internet in the “yoga world” that says “the yoga pose that you avoid the most you need the most”…it never resonated until now. I was ready to go into autopilot and go for my handy routine, starting at my chins and calf muscles and blah blah blah when I realized my body didn’t want to go that route. This is going to sound even more “new age-y”…I decided to let it go and listen to my body. So I just did a forward fold. I let my arms drop to the floor, and hung there for a bit.

I scanned my calves, yep, still tight, my quads and hamstrings, ouch! So I stayed there for a bit, mentally. I brought my awareness there and realized my hamstring muscles were tugging at my lower back…my lower back!!!! What?? My hamstrings were pulling the muscles connecting to my hips, which were, in turn, tugging at my lower back and creating pressure.

So I followed that connection to my lower back and focused. Realizing the path didn’t stop there, it connects to the center of my back and tugged at my right shoulder more than my left and so on. I mentally followed that little path to see where all the connections were that needed attention. The points that hurt, the areas that I felt pressure in, the muscles that are super tight and causing me discomfort.

Then, without a thought, my body just moved into the next pose which, in this example, was walking my hands out to turbo dog (that’s right, I’m a teacher now, so I can throw out the pose names). Point is, I TOTALLY just “flowed” in the most basic sense of the word. I found my flow for the moment. What my body needed at that moment, not what it needed 6 years ago when I was injured. I’m not even that person anymore. My needs have changed.

Switch It Up

Yes, there are still challenges found in daily routines. And most days I need the comforts of my routine, there is no shame in that. However, there is always room for improvement and you can always grow in what you know. But each new level requires a different you, and you can’t continue to do the same things and expect different results. You have to switch it up.

Back to the yoga poses…

So I hated doing back bends, I still do. I’ve been saying this in all my posts for years. Yes, it was included in my “shin splint” routine, because the focus was full body, but I’d spend 3.453 seconds on it…because I hated it. My hips, on the other hand, I would stay in hip poses forever. Pigeon pose was, and still is my favorite, I can fall asleep in a 90/90. But now it was time to move on. To shift my focus. It’s like my body forced me out of my comfort zone. You’ve heard the saying that you have to leave your comfort zone? Or that in order to grow you have to get uncomfortable? And if you don’t take that step yourself, life will force you to move forward.

Well, this is life forcing me to move forward I had to re-evaluate my routine, tell myself I don’t even need a routine in the first place, you control freak! Get out of your head and into your body. The body will tell you what you need to know for this very moment. For the person you are right, right now. And just like that, I realized everything was connected; my muscles, my body, my life situations and my decisions and I found my flow…at least for right now. 😛



P.S. I know I said I wasn’t going to write anything in a few months, but thought I’d leave on this note…