Some Yoga Is Better Than No Yoga – Guest Post From Claire Sanders

I first discovered ashtanga almost four years ago and was immediately drawn to the physical challenges it provided; I practised rigorously and with enthusiasm finding that, for awhile, physical improvements in the asanas were a regular occurrence.  As somebody who had never felt particularly physically capable this was a real ego boost, ego being the operative word.  But inevitably, after a time, my practice began to plateau and I was faced by my own limitations.

 

To me this is yoga; finding that gentle space between effort and struggle, the difference between loving corrections and violent scolds – connecting the breath and body with acceptance.  And yet in my experience it is far easier said than done; I still catch myself internally berating my efforts in my practice, a pattern repeated in daily life when left unchecked.  Yoga allows me to engage with and answer this voice, to silence it with a smile, and occasionally when my practice has been absent for awhile, a few tears.  Conversely when I do not practice regularly my body feels heavier, but the biggest change I feel is not in my back, hips or hamstrings but in my thoughts, actions and awareness of the wider world.

 

Despite this I often find that I have tricked myself out of the practice I deserve.  Ego’s don’t like to be quashed and mine frequently tells me “But you don’t have time…” followed by a long list of other important things I have to attend to that day.  This appeals to my rational side; my practice takes around 90 minutes after which I need to shower and get dressed which brings it to roughly two hours.

 

“Two whole hours?  Do I have a spare two hours today?  Not really, it can’t be helped, I will practice tomorrow.”

 

This is a familiar conversation in my mind.  To combat it I have begun answering it with “Some yoga is better than no yoga”.  In saying this I persuade myself to step onto my mat, knowing that any time spent there is time well spent, a shorter practice does not mean a less meaningful one. Perhaps I will not work on supta kurmasana that day but I will deepen my breathing, focus my mind, connect with my body and make peace with my ego.  This is why I really practice.  This is why it is important for me to make some time, any time to practice.  How do you experience making time to practice, are there internal/external obstacles to negotiate and what methods help you to overcome them?

By Claire Sanders

About Helen Aldred

Helen Aldred practices and teaches ashtanga yoga in Liverpool. She loves to share and discuss yoga, as well as health and wellbeing. Follow her on twitter and join Ashtanga yoga Liverpool’s Facebook community .

Comments

  1. Thank you for your post Claire, resonated with me as I’m just started trying to “fit” yoga into my daily life I’m finding I’m completely blocked, up at 6am on the mat and doing about 5 sun-salutations and giving up… I’m feeling blocked…

    However what I’ve noticed today during practice, after reading your post yesterday… the blocked feeling I think was me ignoring lessons that daily practice gifts… So I’m in a situation now that feels more relaxed and accepting…

    Thank you!

    • Hi Smiley,
      I am glad you found Claire’s post useful. It’s great that you are practicing at home at all, well done. Give yourself a break. The minimum practice in Ashtanga is considered to be 5 surya namaskar A and 5 surya namaskara B and the last 3 positions of closing. I think the most important thing about the practice is not it’s length but its focus. I find that sometimes if I have not been to class for a while I can get a bit sloppy with my awareness, the presence of others focus serves to remind me, which then feeds back to my self practice. So my advise is go back to the breath, so the practice that you are doing with great focus, your mind my wonder that’s okay, bring it back. Reach into your fingertips on the first inhale, sometimes I even imagine my teacher is watching, lol! I hope that helps you Smiley?

  2. Hi Smiley,
    Thanks for your response, I’m so glad that the post connected with your practice in someway, it’s wonderful to know that we can all support each other by talking about our experiences on and off the mat!
    I am working on practising what I preach 🙂

  3. Claire a number of people have told me that they have found your post inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing this with our community. We often feel we are alone with our struggles and challenges but often we are very similar, which means we have alot to learn from one another. Thanks once again.

  4. I really enjoyed writing it – thank you for inviting my thoughts to your blog :-).

  5. Dave Spencer says:

    Thanks for your words Claire, i can definitely relate. It reminded me about a short audio clip i heard of a Yoga teacher in America talking about a similar thing. Here’s the link, have a listen. Thanks 🙂
    http://imcw.org/Talks/TalkDetail/TalkID/329.aspx

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