Yesterday I practiced yoga for the first time in several years. The instructor was a man named Brian Kest who has crazy hair and an interesting accent. He is also very good. I have to admit that I couldn't hold the poses for very long and I had to take several breaks, but I did it. I liked some of the things that Mr. Kest said:
1. There is no such thing as the perfect pose. If you feel it, if you're stretching and flexing but not hurting, you're doing it right. Don't worry about "perfect".
2. Everyone has a unique genetic make up and series of life events that create a person's own level of ability. You can't be somewhere you're not. While practicing yoga, concentrate on where you are right now.
3. Throughout the session, your breathing should remain calm, your face relaxed. If you find your breath is stuggling or your face is clenched, you're straining. Take a break, slow your breath, and return to the pose.
That last comment helped me from pushing myself too hard. I'm often too concentrated on getting it right, on doing everything just as the instructor does. But just as I'd push, I'd remember my breathing and back off. When the hour was done, I lay on my mat, relaxed, refreshed, and tired as hell. I'd forgotten the utter sense of calm and peace that comes from completing a yoga series. I'm a little sore today from being so stretched out, but it's a good feeling, not a bad one.
The verdict? I'll do yoga again. In fact, I think I'll do it tomorrow.
What will you do for yourself this week?