Over the past five or six months, I have noticed a significant shift in my physical yoga practice. When I first started taking classes at One Down Dog, I almost exclusively took “Sweat” classes – classes that infuse cardio and plyometric movements with yoga flows to create a challenging total body workout. These classes resonated with me because I naturally crave the heat. I love the intensity. I love pushing my physical limits and feeling strong. Recently, however, I have scaled back my Sweat classes significantly, instead opting for slower, more traditional vinyasa flow classes.
Initially I didn’t think much of this. I was just taking the classes that my body wanted to take. But recently it occurred to me that this shift was one iteration of a larger one that I am actively working to implement in my life. Whether it’s on my mat or in my daily life, I am constantly reminding myself to find my own pace. It’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos – an instructor’s cues, the pace of those around you – and experience insecurity with following your own breath and listening to your body. When I first started practicing yoga, it was important to me to stay on top of the cues as the instructor gave them, fearing that not doing so made me inadequate or even “bad” at yoga. Throughout the two years that I’ve been practicing, however, I have become more and more content with moving at my own pace and letting my breath guide my movement.
The moments when I am able to establish my own rhythm and maintain it despite what’s happening around me are those that I find most powerful. They have trained me to come back to my breath during stressful situations that I encounter off of the mat. Perhaps most significantly, they have made me more confident and secure in my unique path and my unique journey in life, not comparing myself to anyone else. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with the speed of things happening around you, I would encourage you to establish your own pace and challenge yourself to stick with it. After some time, you’ll find that you are more naturally fall into a pace that works for you.
Here are some strategies that I use throughout my day to establish and regain my pace:
- One-Minute Check In: When you find that thoughts are flooding into your head at a speed that is unmanageable, simply stop and breath for about a minute. Start with one deep inhale and exhale and then continue more fluidly, allowing yourself to tune into the breath and your thoughts to dissipate. I recommend closing your eyes while doing this. When you open your eyes, try to tune into how you’re feeling now versus before you took this pause. Then ask yourself: Now what do I need to do? I always find that I am better able to construct a game plan after taking this time.
- Make a List: As many of you might know, I’m a huge list maker. I have some much stuff going on that it’s really comforting for me to see if all written down in one place. Even if I don’t complete every task, writing it down makes things seem much more manageable than when they are simply floating around in my head. I also wrote this whole post on making lists that you can check out.
- Short Morning Meditation: I have only recently began to dabble with seated meditation as a part of my home practice. I try to do at least 5 minutes in the morning – seated on a block or pillow on my yoga mat with my hands clasped together in a trust mudra. Though I have attempted to go beyond 5 minutes, I have a really hard time for sitting still for longer than this. I recommend starting with a short amount of time, even one minute, and trying to build from there. Doing this in the morning sets a calm tone for my day that I am able to carry throughout. If this is really challenging, I would recommend some light movement and/or stretching beforehand to get the kinks out. It’s much easier to sit when your muscles are comfortable.