Every morning I work very hard to pull myself out of the cocoon of comfort that is a swath of blankets and pillows, and step out into the cool morning air. I put on some hot water for tea, and roll out my yoga mat, placing my Zafu at the top, along with my singing bowl, mala beads, and sometimes a candle and incense. I pour myself a hot cup of green tea and breath in the vapors as I sit upon my Zafu. Then I take a sip, ring my singing bowl and close my eyes. Still dazed from the dreams, or nightmares, that are still freshly imprinted on my eye lids, I begin the task of regulating my breath back to an awaken state before I step into the beautiful victorious, Ujjayi, breath.
When I find myself ready, slowly I begin to wake the body. It is different every morning, for each morning I have different feelings upon waking. Some are warmer and I easily find myself ready for a vigorous practice with pleasant dreams still rolling in my mind. Some are slower, more calculated, as philosophy plagues my spirit. Some are joyous and playful, as mantras play in the background. While some are slow, painful, and very coddling.
In all the years I have been practicing yoga, I have found it is less about what flow you find yourself in on the mat, and more that you just find yourself in a practice every day. When we step into our own practice, it turns into more of a conversation between the body and the mind. Steeped in wonderment at the changes, sometimes over night, that can regress or propel the body into movements that help awaken and aliven our energy. Even if you are one whom is more focused on finding a daily class that brings you to a studio, the early morning practice, is possibly the most important one that you can find yourself in daily.
No matter the medium, art, language, meditation, singing, performance, reading, etc. it is worthy to note that all of the masters have the same advice, “make sure you make time every day to practice”. We as Yogis have a similar message, “no matter where you find yourself, be sure to find your practice”.
On a physical level, it is said that there are three days that you can reasonably skip your physical routine and not lose that which you are building. After three days your muscle mass and strength begin to recede, as well as your flexibility and your expansion into your cardio and breath work.
Mentally the effects of a day off can be so much more. We can find that one day we feel off, sluggish, and wake up the next morning slightly more apathetic. There are less of the ‘feel good’ hormones and natural chemicals roaming around in our brains; and the next day it can be difficult to find the motivation to get up and begin again (as we more often than not sleep better with physical activity).
Of course the mental will roll into the physical with less of those ‘feel good’ hormones. We can find ourselves less emotionally balanced, and having a hard time ‘letting things go’ or keeping things together at all. Our morning grumps can last well into the evenings, and as the days ware on we begin to bicker with those we love and have a harder time getting on at work.
As Yogis taking a day off is not fully needed, however sometimes it is unavoidable; and with that one skipped day sometimes our tapas begins to fail. It takes us more to motivate from one day to the next. We find less motivation, less awakness and awareness in our day to day lives; and with each passing day we find that this motivation takes more and more to awaken.
Here is why it is so very important to find a daily practice within yoga. Yes maybe we are unable to wake up in enough time, so we skip the morning practice; or maybe we lack the space to practice a full physical practice, so we stop doing physical practices until a space opens up. Still in these moments we can find the energy to at least meditate, or maybe practice at a later time in the day, finding a rebalancing factor within the tools we have as yogis.
It is not just the tapas and motivation that benefit from a daily practice in yoga. Rather everything begins to build on itself each and every time we step onto our matts. Our bodies get stronger and more flexible. Our minds become clearer, and more focused. Our hearts become more open and forgiving. Finally our Selves begin to take more of a center stage in our lives, allowing us to set clear and healthy boundaries, live lives we were meant to, and remove fear for happiness. Although these things can happen with a weekly, or even a monthly practice, we are much more likely to see lasting results if we are dedicated to practicing daily.
Practice in Peace and Love ❤