My imperfect yoga practice

What does your yoga practice look like?

Bathed in sunlight, sat on the mat in your best gear, all peace and light?

Me too. Yeah right …

My yoga practice can actually be more like this experience.

Recently, I was sat on my mat meditating when a strange mixture of drilling and whistling began next door.

Bear with me, there’s an important yoga message here – honestly!

I breathed through it for a while, and it worked … Then, the drilling took over the whistling.

My practice continued, witnessing the inhale and exhale.

I noticed my feelings come and go – the heat of annoyance rise and then fall away.

‘Brilliant’, a thought popped up, ‘I’m so calm amidst the frenzy of DIY’.

‘Nee-nah, nee-nah!’ The sound of the police. The sirens got closer and then faded.

My practice continued … then the doorbell rang.

The thing is there are always distractions.

They may be external such as neighbours doing early morning home renovations.

Or internal like the ‘monkey mind’ jumping from thought to thought – even if it is, ironically, about your yoga practice.

Your best yoga work

I’m not saying you should torture yourself with noise to make yourself more mindful. That would just be cruel, and not practising one of the yoga principles, ‘ahimsa’ or non-violence.

What I am saying is that the yoga practice (‘yoga’ includes meditation) I do when there are distractions is often my best work.

This is because anchoring yourself to the breath grounds and calms you. It stops you from getting your freak on.

Some simple breath meditation

To start with, simply watch the natural breath come and go in or around the nostrils.

Or you can silently say ‘so’ on the (uncontrolled) in-breath and ‘hum’ on the out-breath.

In the longer-term, these mindful meditation practices will work on the deeper stuff.

This means you can change how you react to events. You might not even notice you’re doing it at first.

For me, these shifts in how I now react mean –

Being more patient – not wanting everything to happen now or getting frustrated when transport is delayed or someone has just cut me up on my bicycle. Now I sternly shake my head and say ‘unbelievable’ (they quake!) instead of ‘for eeffs sake…’ Ha!

Being present – not ruminating about past events or fearing future ‘failures’. This is a massive success for me because I used to think way too much. The more you train the mind to be in the present, the less it slips into its habit of beating itself up.

Being cool – I don’t mean cool trendy. Teaching yoga to teenagers, I would never even pretend. I mean accepting things as they are right now, even if they’re actually a bit crap. I just had one of those days. I’m tired and so that’s what I’ve put my mood down to (self awareness comes with this practice too).

So, remember, the best yoga practice you do is often when it’s a bit imperfect. A bit like DIY.

Find out more about the meditation I teach as a Traditional Yoga teacher.

Or find a course in your area.

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