I haven’t been drawn to practice active asana much lately. Over the past few months I have been more interested in restorative practice, pranayama, and meditation than asana.
That is, until this week.
I noticed it early on – before the week even began, I booked myself into a group yoga class. I rolled out my mat late at night instead of turning on the TV or settling in with a good book.
I felt called to move and breathe in ways I haven’t in a long time.
I spent a good portion of this week (and the past year) reflecting on this shift in my practice. Sitting with and unpacking when, and why, I’m drawn to movement and stillness.
Because in truth, I’ve always felt a little guilty about how frequently – or infrequently – I practice asana. I’ve never quite built the cadence of daily practice in the way that some of my students and peers have.
It’s always been a little of this, a little of that.
A little asana home practice, a little pranayama.
A little restorative, a little posture work.
A little study, a little play.
In my most critical headspace, I wrote off this pattern as inconsistent, flighty, or sporadic.
But something shifted in me this week. And I can see how that perspective – that judgement – is steeped in expectation.
My guilt about the way I move through practice is built on the idea that there is a right way to practice. And to my core, I believe that nothing is farther from the truth.
There are so many ways to “do” yoga. The very structure of yoga offers a wide range of entry points to explore the practice. If you subscribe to the sutras outlined by Patanjali, there are – at least – eight paths towards enlightenment.
I think of yoga (and all that it encompasses) as a quiver, or a toolbox. Each style or method of yoga offers different lessons and benefits.
And so when I feel ungrounded, it makes sense that I would pick up the tool that grounds me – in this case, active asana.
When I feel fulfilled and calm, it makes sense that I pick up the tool that allows me to dive inward and explore that sense of calm.
When I feel joy and energy, it makes sense that I want to sit with it, to breathe with it, to bask in it.
Because each day is different, my practice shifts to mirror those differences.
When I release myself from that expectation that I should be doing yoga in a certain way (#yogaeverydamnday), I have more freedom to practice in a way that supports my health and well being.
And it feels so, so good to offer myself space to adapt.
To use this practice to feel better, to be fulfilled, to relish in joy and cultivate peace.
My hope as a teacher is to share that agency with my students. To offer a space that feels safe for exploration, for play, and for change. For picking up one tool and putting another down.
To facilitate the freedom that I am (forever and always) learning to cultivate in myself.