This morning I stepped onto my yoga mat and took a class for the first time in almost a full month. It felt like coming home. I was stiffer than I thought I would be, but my muscles slowly released and by the end of classes it felt oh so good to stretch. I definitely lost strength, which my ego didn’t like, but I was able to discover new ways of engaging and moving, as opposed to just falling back into old muscle memory. It also felt good to be returning to my practice on my own terms. I have been visiting family over the last two weeks for the holidays. Several times I have thought, “I should go take a class or at least do a decent home practice.” My body wanted stillness, though. I was drained after a hectic work schedule over the last few months and healing from an injury that prevented me from engaging in my physical practice the two weeks prior to the holidays. I allowed myself to let go of the should and listened to the wants and the needs. Sometimes we need rest…and that’s okay.
I share this, because as we enter the new year so many people will step onto a yoga mat for the first time or return to their mats after a long hiatus. Starting something new can be daunting and our egos can become very fragile when we find we are not instantly good at what we are doing. If you are returning to your practice after a break, do your best to approach everything with an open mind – you have the gift of a fresh start. You may not be as flexible or strong as you once were, but if you tap into your breath and allow yourself to experience your practice exactly as it is (not as it was or how you think it should be), new things will be revealed. Be patient. Be kind. Be consistent.
I wish you all well as we embark on a new year. And I encourage you to make taking care of yourself a priority this year.