I started yoga a few years ago when my company began offering cheap classes in our lunch breaks, and before and after work, with a local instructor who came in to our office. I had tried yoga a few times before that, but I’d never really got on with it. I wanted to be the kind of person who did yoga (you know, the Instagram version of a yogi), but I feared that I wasn’t. Or at least, I was made to feel that I wasn’t by some of the scary teachers (and intimidating participants!) I encountered. Luckily, the local instructor we had at work was fantastic, and her relaxed and happy-go-lucky demeanour made me instantly warm to both her and the practice.
When lockdown happened a year ago today, I knew I was going to have to form some kind of routine, so I decided to make yoga a part of that. Initially I started with one of the Yoga with Adriene 30 day programmes, and I practiced every working day (so generally 5 days a week). When I finished the 30 days, I randomly selected a different Adriene video every day, sometimes practicing for just 10 minutes, other days closer to an hour.
I’ve stuck with Adriene this whole time, doing a little bit of yoga every week, even if not every day. When restrictions eased and I briefly had other things to do, it was harder to fit it in, but I always came back to it.
This year on January 1st I started Adriene’s latest 30 day programme, and since then I have followed her free monthly calendars, practicing every single day so far (82 days of yoga!). I may not be super flexible, and I’m certainly not that Insta-yogi I once thought I wanted to be, but regular yoga practice has really made a difference to my lockdown life. No matter how stressed I am, or how much I want to stay in bed, getting up and showing up on the mat always makes me feel better. It’s a chance to breathe. To move. To stretch. And, as Adriene says, to find what feels good.
So after running my first Park Run this morning, my beautiful day of ikigai continued. I decided to fill this precious first day of the year with things that would make me happy and feel good.
I’d heard about a film called Walk With Me, a journey into mindfulness about Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, which immediately made me think of one of my friends who has been studying mindfulness, so I met her and we went to see the movie. It was really interesting, and by the end we agreed we felt like we’d been in meditation for a couple of hours (and I don’t even meditate).
My friend suggested we follow the movie with a yoga session, so off we went to see my favourite yoga teacher who happened to be running a class this evening. It was a lovely session, longer than my usual class which is crammed into a lunch break, and it was just what my body (and mind) needed. I find the Hatha yoga that I practice is very flexible and easy to adapt to how you are feeling on any particular day, and although I’ve only been practicing for about a year, I can’t imagine life without yoga now.
My teacher often instructs us in a move and says “see how your body feels on this fine day” and that’s a phrase I tend to leave the room with. Each day is different, but on this fine day I have to say I’m feeling pretty good!