I planted a garden of flowers this year.
The ones that can be drawn by a 2nd grader.
With a round center and petals that fan out in a circle.
Daisies & Sunflowers.
Dahlias & Zinnias.
a beautiful bouquet.
I watch them grow day in and day out, and it appears that little change has occurred. However, if I were take a picture from a week ago and compare it to today, growth would be much more tangible. The small shifts over time end up being large changes in the end.
Just like in yoga, we often don’t feel like we are making progress or accomplishing growth when we are on our mat. Day in and day out. Updog and downdog. Tadasana and savanasa. We think we need the simple poses, the poses with the most potency, to be harder. We think if we just touch our toes, stand on our hands, or accomplish an asana milestone it will make us better yogis.
It is in the simplicity, the routine and the mindfulness where we make the most progress. Small changes over long periods of time will have a lasting impact. Intense changes over a short period of time will burn out like a flame.
My home practice has gotten stronger in the past two years, and I rarely miss a day of being on mindful in my body. I may not get on my mat for a full practice, but I always make time for at least 5 minutes of something. It might just be my supine somatic “cat stretch” exercises on the floor at daybreak or a restorative pose before bed. More days than not, I have the opportunity and great privilege to spend sometime with myself, my body and my mind on my mat. Its also a commitment. Sometimes it means waking up at 5am, not staying out late with friends at night, or carefully planning out my week in advance.
My home practice is not always pretty. It is not always hard. I have gone weeks without doing an arm balance or “advanced” posture. I have spent 45 minutes just working my way to standing. I have spent entire months feeling like nothing is changing and my practice is at a standstill. But a few times a month I take an advanced group yoga class, or feel inspired to add some challenging postures into my practice. It is at these moments I have recently started to notice change. My legs feel more stable. My back no longer cracks every time I twist. My inversion practice is longer. That arm balance that was so hard two months ago is more attainable.
One of my goals for the past two years has been to perform handstand. I know, I know…its not really a yoga pose. It is more of a trick. But who says yoga needs to be so serious? Not I! One of my teachers has compared yoga to riding a bike. Some days you need to tinker with the gears, and other days you just need to ride and practice your wheelies (another goal of mine…I sometimes question if I am in my late 20s or in 2nd grade). I only practice handstand a few times a month, but surprisingly the work is starting to pay off. I can hold my handstand, albeit briefly, away from the wall. I feel stronger. I feel joyful. I feel stable. I feel empowered.
I challenge you to start a mindfulness routine everyday. Start with 5 minutes in the morning or at night of something simple: stretches, meditation, your favorite pose or stability work. Notice how this small commitment can reap a large amount of growth.
What have you accomplished over the past months, years, decades?
Peace, love and Namaste,