I mentioned last week that this is the summer of yoga in the morning – a short (15- or 30-minute) session with my Yoga Studio app almost every day. I get up (after hitting snooze a time or two), put in my contacts, get a drink of water, and unroll my green yoga mat in my dining room, often stepping onto it still in my pajamas.
I am about the farthest thing from a gym rat. I don’t love to sweat and I don’t care for most exercise classes, the exception being the yoga class I attend at a local studio almost every Monday night. But I’ve long thought that I should cultivate a habit of exercising more often than once a week. As Gretchen Rubin says, “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”
Yoga (at least the way I do it) is a gentle form of exercise that still gives me a chance to push myself. I like trying new poses, and I’m not as terrified of them as I once was. (This is largely due to my instructor, Meredith, and her gentle, no-nonsense encouragement as we bend and stretch and attempt new poses together.) I nearly killed myself attempting a quad stretch during pigeon pose last month – but I can now hold a crow pose (!) for a few seconds without falling. Progress.
I also like the way yoga makes me feel: stretchy, like a rubber band; strong, when I’m able to hold a lunge or a squat or a push-up (also known as warrior, chair and chaturanga poses). I like the way it helps to clear my head, the way it gently nudges me to focus on my body, here in the moment, and breathe. And when Ali Edwards mentioned this app on her blog back in January, I thought I’d give it a go.
The key for me with morning yoga (as in so many areas of my life) is progress, not perfection. Or, alternatively, it’s simply showing up, and doing the work. I tend to beat myself up for not doing “enough” or not doing things “the right way,” but the wise words of my first yoga instructor, McKay, still reverberate in my head: There is no judgment or competition in yoga. It is difficult, but vital, to remember for a perfectionist like me.
This daily yoga isn’t magic: there are some mornings I don’t want to get on the mat, and some mornings I skip altogether. It doesn’t always defuse my tension or calm my racing brain. But it frequently does. And that pocket of peace in the early morning – as the sunshine slants in across the wood floor, amid the crowded bookshelves in the center of our apartment – is enough.
Do you practice yoga, or another form of exercise? How do you find it benefits you?