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Happy Thanksgiving yogis and yoginis! I thought I'd share with you a little piece of yoga wisdom I picked up quite by accident this week. Enjoy your holidays!
I have always been partial to active, physically demanding yoga classes. As a self-described overachiever, I have had to teach myself how to tailor my yoga practice. Recognizing when to back off, and, even more challenging, allowing myself a break are qualities that I find difficult, even after years of practice. As the hours of daylight shorten and we find ourselves in the midst of the holiday season lately, no doubt we could all stand to slow it down a bit.
I've been enjoying a particularly vigorous pattern of home practices lately, complete with my favorite shoulder opener, dolphin, and lots of inversions. The other night I attended the class of one of my favorite local teachers. A few minutes into her challenging flow I found myself in a simple standing forward fold with rag doll arms, and I was surprised to find the most delicious sense of release in the pose. The gentle weight of my folded arms allowed for a wonderful opening of my shoulders and back, and I could feel the warm flood of blood and energy to my inverted head. Despite my push to lose myself in challenging asana lately, it was here in rag doll that I became aware of a complete mental release.
But enough about me. I bring this up to illustrate that sometimes the greatest benefits of yoga come about in the gentlest of asana, and even the most driven practitioners need to slow it down sometimes to achieve them. After all, a quiet mind is one of the primary goals of our practice, and deserves to be honored as much as looking great in inversions. My revelation in class the other night served to remind me that a very gentle, basic pose and not, in fact, a lengthy pincha mayurasana was exactly what I needed to achieve that clear head. As the holiday season rolls on and we find ourselves stretched thin both physically and mentally, it's important to remind ourselves that we do deserve a break. Treat yourself to a yin or restorative class and see how your quieted mind spreads from the mat to your everyday life!