The Practice of Honoring Yourself


This morning was day 2 of this year's 31 days of yoga practice, and the planks and downward-facing dog poses reminded me that I wanted to also share this: I enjoy experiencing these videos AND I don't do them exactly as they are led. I can't...or rather, I could for a few days, and then I would injure myself. In fact, the first year that I participated, that's what happened. I tried to follow along exactly as instructed, and ended up with very sore shoulders that kept me from doing any yoga for weeks afterward.

Now I use this as a practice not just of the body, but of the mind and heart. Can I listen to my own body? Can I honor my own strengths, needs, and limitations? With back, shoulder, and knee tenderness, I am always modifying the poses, shortening them, sometimes doing a totally different pose that feels right at the moment.

This can feel difficult-- I would love to have the level of fitness and strength to do even the challenging poses with ease. But I have been getting to know myself better, becoming ever more authentic and vulnerable, and I know that this practice is good for me-- to listen inward, to know more and more when NOT to go with the flow of what is in front of me.

And what's more, for me this is a practice of living what I teach. In my courses of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, I lead gentle yoga and movement. My oft-repeated instruction to participants is to err on the side of caution and self-care, to seek what is nourishing over what is challenging, to find the edge of what is possible for your body right now, and stay on the close side of that edge. I see my own yoga practice as a chance for me to live this teaching-- to not let it be just something that I tell other people. I believe it, and I practice it. 

May you honor yourself-- your strengths, your needs, and your limitations-- today.