Reflections from my Yoga mat

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The yoga of growth

I watch my body change over time.

The things I don’t think I can do, after some time, I can do it. That feels like growth to me.

I try to do each asana properly, I might not be able to do it to its full expression, but I do what I can in the right way.

That is speaking in the language of my body. When I do this, it listens, it learns, it opens and evolves.

Eventually, that knee will straighten, the spine will lengthen, the inner restless energy will find its stillness and balance.

Your mind will give up before your body does

Hold it. Hold it. Stay in this moment. My GOD, that hurts in a way I didn’t know was possible. 

I can’t. I give up – my mind gives up.

And then my body crumples as gracefully as I can on to my mat.

But through breath and consciousness, I can intercept that small space between my mind and my body. I can say “I know you want to give up. But you don’t have to.”

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

But at least I got the conversation started.

The sweet pain of the stretch

It hurts in all the right ways.

It teaches me to feel uncomfortable and be with that feeling. It teaches me endurance and tolerance.

Life can be so uncomfortable sometimes. People and relationships can make me feel uncomfortable. But I can be with that feeling, just like I am with that feeling when I stretch.

The truth is, i’m not as tolerant as I would like to be. I’m not as tolerant as I need to be to live in a beautiful way.

And what is it to stretch?

It is the stretch of opening up a little bit more than I am used to. The sweet pain of it.

Yoga does that for me.

And so does life.

Flexibility and balance

After a few days off the mat, my concern is loss of flexibility.

I haven’t stretched in 5 days – my body is going to feel so stiff today at practice.

And yet, the body remembers flexibility and brings me back faster than I thought.

Balance. Now that’s what’s tough.

Meditation is the highest form of yoga

Everything else; the flexibility, the fitness – it’s just a side effect.

Yoga without breath is like an Opera without the music.

Yoga with a burning question

I begin each practice with a question. And this question burns in my heart.

Who am I?

I yoga for the answer.

At first, my answer was – Malavika.

And then that deepened in to my aspirations, my dreams, my desires, my visions for life.

But lately, my answer has been just “life, life, life, life, life.”

That was the only answer that made me weep.

Keep coming back to the mat

Sometimes I don’t feel like practicing.

I think to myself “Today, I don’t feel like practicing. And now, I am going to practice.”

Yoga and diet

When reading about the spirituality and significance of yoga – I came across a post where someone asked the question “Can yoga help me lose weight? What should I eat when practicing yoga?”

The answer claimed that once you practice yoga, it brings about a certain rejuvenation to your body that your cravings will naturally subside, you will naturally avoid over eating, and you will naturally look for more wholesome foods to fill your body.

It seemed like fluffy talk to me. I needed proof. I needed to see if that was true, because I just couldn’t imagine losing my cravings to certain things (milk chocolate and Original glazed Krispy Kreme donuts are my kryptonite). So I decided to conduct a few experiments and play close attention to how I felt, and how I ate.

I observed my body and my hunger levels and cravings repeatedly through weeks of yoga practice – both before a class, and after.

All I can say is that, honestly for me- it works. I don’t know how it’s possible, but it somehow happens.

After a yoga class, my appetite is significantly suppressed. Not just neutral, but suppressed. There have been several times when I have gone to yoga with a hunger level of 8-9/10 (as part of the experiment), and then come out and my appetite is at 2-3/10. CRAZY.

I also notice that I am more thirsty than hungry.

I also notice that my body craves to eat fruits, vegetables, simple, raw food.

It is the most bizarre thing.

In contrast, and just for comparison with a baseline, after a work out at the gym, I am h u n g r y. 

I just thought this was so fascinating and wanted to share with you my experience with dietary changes due to my yoga practice.

 30 day challenge: Asanas I love to hate / hate to love

There are certain asanas that I love to hate/hate to love. I avoid practicing them, because it pushes me out of all my comfort zones.

So I intend to devote a little time, love and practice towards one of my choosing each month.

It isn’t too much. It’s just one asana, just once a day, for 30 days.

I am going to start with my handstand. I feel unusually uncomfortable being an inversion supported by my arms. Strange, because I feel quite comfortable in a headstand. My arm strength is also so weak that it is difficult for me to hold myself up for very long. My current ability to do a handstand is none.

So I will begin here.

I will begin against a wall. That is all I know for now.


Love,

m

2 thoughts on “Reflections from my Yoga mat

  1. ainsobriety says:

    I often come back to something you wrote here.
    When I am feeling pain, or exhaustion or distress and want to come out of a pose…
    What is the right answer? To push through and show I can? To compassionately come out of the pose?

    This indecision often surprises me. If I am in a class and the teacher encourages pushing hard or further my immediate response is opposition. How can she know what I need?

    The mind is a funny thing. Do I even know what I need?

    Anne

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Hello A,

      It is always a pleasure to read your comments.

      For myself, I find that I grow in my physical practice when I am able to hold the pose for even just a couple of seconds longer than I did the last time. So sometimes I know that is what I need, and I do try to remain there – for that purpose. Sometimes I just don’t have it in me to hold it for a second more, even though I probably should – I come out. Of course, there are times when it feels wrong, and that feels more like injury rather than growth. I always come out of the pose then.

      “Do I even know what I need” This is profound and something I will be thinking about. What exactly do I think I need? Is it based on my emotions, fears and compulsions? In that case – is that really what I need?

      And then there’s the other type of knowing. Where you are aligned with yourself and know exactly what you need and what you do not need.

      Honestly, it is not often that I am able to operate from that knowingness. But that just means my work is not done.

      m
      xo

      Liked by 1 person

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