Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Away From the Mat

I have been doing yoga for a little over three years now and it is a sign of my disservice to this blog that I have yet to mention it.  My yoga routine has been, shall we say, on-again off-again.  As a (now-graduated) college student, my daily and weekly routines change drastically at least four times a year with the beginning and ending of semesters.  Meaning that whenever a semester begins or ends, my yoga practice gets shot to hell and I experience a few quivering weeks in which I want want WANT to do yoga but never seem to unroll the mat and pop the DVD in.  This past (and last) semester was my busiest: I had to complete my thesis, complete various other assignments, find a new place to live, and plan a wedding.  It also happened to be the time that I really found yoga.

It's interesting that it should be the time for me to really immerse myself in yoga.  Previously, I had shelled out the money to practice in studios once or twice a week with excellent instructors, low lighting, and themed music.  Finding myself betrothed and thus needing to hang onto my hard-earned money (okay, I babysit: not that difficult, but it requires composure), I decided to move my mat out of the studio and into the living room.  I also took some university recreation yoga classes - underwater yoga and core yoga.  I in no way expected to find yoga in front of my orange couch amidst piles of papers and clothing or in the clinical white tiled setting of a university gym.  But, to my surprise, I found two instructors that really made a difference: the university instructor who couldn't do half the poses but somehow could trick your body into getting into them and, as cheesy as it may sound, myself.

You could make the argument that it was stress that drove me to yoga.  I certainly did need an escape and yoga and the screaming brats (whom I adore by the way) I babysit were my only way.  My yoga practice grew from once or twice a week to four or five times a week.  When the university classes ended those all took place at home, guided by the soothing tones of Shiva Rea and Rodney Yee.  I splurged on a second and third DVD and then one day, on hiatus from everything while healing from oral surgery, I decided that this is what I want to do.  I researched local yoga teacher trainings, my practice grew more intense and regular, I could feel my body changing and improving, my core muscles hardened, and then - the semester ended.

I struggled.  During finals, I practiced once or twice.  It's not that I had less free time; on the contrary, I had more.  I spent more time in the living room but I was watching Gilmore Girls.  I noticed the DVDs, but I just kept going.  Then I moved, with the fiance, into an apartment with an extra room which is really an oversized entryway (the foyer, as the fiance likes to call it).  I dubbed this the yoga room - and then failed to use it.  Granted it was packed with boxes, but boxes are mobile.  I kept making plans to use it, putting my yoga pants on in the morning so that come yoga time (late afternoon/evening for me) I would be halfway there.  A week later, it hadn't happened and then came yesterday.

Yesterday was Boardwalk Day.  Once a year, my Texan nieces get Boardwalk Day, the day of all days, which Auntie always forgets to be busy on.  I will hopefully post about boardwalk day this week (though it may not be until after the honeymoon) but suffice it to say that boardwalk day is Charles Jenkinson's wet dream.  I returned home tired and grouchy, closed the door to the yoga room, shoved some boxes around, and, to the sound of the fiance's video games, unrolled my mat.  I did what I call sleepy-time yoga, the lunar sequence on Shiva Rea's DVD Yoga Shakti, and relaxed.

This sequence is meant to unwind you.  It starts not so much with asanas as with guided movement that massages the spine, followed by some vinyasas with back-bends, twists, and inversions.  It softens everything, preparing you to go to bed relaxed, which I did.  During the practice, I thought about the apartment, our landlord, the wedding, and, occasionally, Boardwalk Day.  More importantly, I did yoga. I was on my mat, stretching, relaxing, gaining perspective.

I don't know if I'm truly back to my mat.  There are plenty of things left to interrupt my practice: the wedding (in three days!), the honeymoon, the job search, the starting a new job.  But, at least for one night, it was good to be back.

Question: How do you maintain your smaller routines (like yoga or working out) when your larger routines (like work or school) change?  Is it easy for you or does it take struggle and a transition period?

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