Practicing Yoga When You Don’t Feel Like Yoga

Guest blog by Retreat Leader Caitlin

Something I’ve been hearing a lot over the past few months is how people have lost their yoga practice a little (or a lot). They say they haven’t had the motivation to get on their mats at home, or log onto a Zoom yoga class. I get it, Zoom yoga is far from my favorite way to teach. 

The last few months have been confusing, stressful, and if you happened to let your practice lag, you’re not alone. Even though we may not be practicing asana as much (the physical postures), there are so many other ways to “practice yoga” to make you feel calm, happy and light. You don’t need a pandemic to do these – but perhaps they will be more appreciated and absorbed amid recent events. 

Taste Your Food: One of the most mindful things we can do is to be present at meals. Try these steps for your next meal and see how it goes. Treat yourself to this yummy read too: How to Eat, by Thich Nhat Hanh

  1. Before you take a bite, look at your whole plate, observe the colors, textures and varieties. 
  2. Take a bite, and put your fork down. 
  3. Taste every part of that bite, the temperature, the taste, the texture. 
  4. Take another bite, and put your fork down. 
  5. Repeat as you wish 🙂 

Cook Your Food (Margaret’s two cents): I already loved to cook pre-pandemic, but that first chakra satisfying activity kicked into high gear with more time at home. I felt like I was accomplishing something by creating healthy meals for myself and my family. It was earthy and primal, satisfying a basic need in a time of deep uncertainty. I was already an unabashed foodie – but this crisis made me truly appreciate the act of nurturing oneself through eating.

Stop & Smell the Roses (literally): When I walk my dog or a child I’m babysitting, I usually have my phone in hand, headphones in, and just walk mindlessly. I know it’s difficult to leave the phone at home, but when I did (ok, it was by accident), I noticed houses in my neighborhood I’ve never noticed before, stopped to pet dogs, and admired my next door neighbor’s rose bush. You could start with a 5 minute walk sans phone per day, and build up a little each day. 

Take the time to wander: Do you rush through the grocery store? SAME. I go in with a list in mind. I already know where everything is, so I grab and get out so I can be onto my next event of the day. During the last few months, I realized how nice it is to go to the store and not have to be somewhere in 20 minutes. I wandered the aisles, looked at things I never saw before, and actually chatted with my cashier. It was so lovely, and I’m trying to bring that mindfulness back into my grocery (or tj maxx) shopping. 

Sleep: I don’t know about you, but when I know I have to wake up early or at a certain time, I can’t sleep because I’m worried about waking up on time. These last few months have given me the gift of sleeping without a deadline. Going to bed when I’m tired and waking up naturally has been the most amazing thing. I understand that this is not realistic for most days and most people, and I recognize that I am so privileged to be able to do this, but maybe try it on the weekend, or during a free afternoon! Let your body get sleepy, and even if it’s 11 am (and you’re able), go lie in bed and rest. Give yourself that permission, even though it can be very hard. Your body will thank you. 

Write letters: I’ve found a love for handwritten notes during the last few months. It feels so nice to pick out a card, write something to make a friend or family member smile, and hear their reaction when the card arrives in their mailbox. Everyone loves snail mail right? It’s such a beautiful way to connect with someone that might not be close by, and it’s guaranteed to put a smile on their face. 

Taste, cook, smell, wander, sleep, write. As the world heals, we can contribute to our own healing by making these simple pleasures practices. Your yoga mat will be there when you’re ready to get back on it, promise.

Yeehaw & Namaste.