I’m in the process of becoming trained as a yoga teacher, and the nine-month-long training includes writing a number of papers. I’ll post them here because, well, that’s what I do. The fourth writing assignment was a reflection on a month of practicing yoga at home. Our instructor asked us to practice three days a week for at least half an hour each time. We were to move on our own, without videos, books or apps to guide us.
Set an intention for your practice. Focus on the breath. Warm up the body. Sun salutations. Standing poses. Inversions and arm balances, if I feel like changing it up. Seated poses. Cool down. Savasana.
The rhythm of a yoga practice has become comforting, whether I’m in class or on my own. There’s plenty of room for creativity within this loose pattern, but even a loose structure helps me find my way as I stretch and move around my mat.
I would have guessed that transitioning from one pose to another could be challenging, but as I’ve spent more time in home practice I’ve realized that my body and mind both know what makes sense. I’ve spent enough time in yoga classes to have some idea of what flows. Likewise, as I’ve worked to establish a home practice without any outside guidance, I’ve discovered that half an hour isn’t much time to spend in yoga. I can barely get through a standing sequence before it’s time to start winding down.
The real discovery has come off the mat: I’m undisciplined.
When I shared this revelation, my roommate was skeptical. “You’re plenty disciplined,” she said. “Or maybe you’re just more disciplined than me.”
True, I’ve got a Type-A personality. I’m able to focus and accomplish a lot, and frequently I can do so in a short timeframe. That’s precisely why I didn’t recognize my lack of discipline before. I’m able to put on blinders to isolate myself from the rest of the world and peck away at a task until I’ve accomplished what I must.
But so much of this is based on what I want to do, what’s fun to me. Writing a book qualifies. Managing my budget does not. Sleeping until my alarm rings for the third time is decadent. Climbing out of bed and onto my yoga mat doesn’t sound so tempting, at least not before I’ve had my first cup of coffee.
It’s been hard to identify the rhythms of my life and where a regular home practice fits within them. So far, that has meant an erratic schedule but satisfying yoga; even if I spend 15 minutes in supta baddha konasana followed by 15 minutes with legs up the wall, I feel peaceful and challenged. And those lessons are following me into the rest of my life, as I begin taking steps toward building discipline, even while yoga brings me freedom.