Listen to your body: do yoga!

Yes, yes, yes! you can do yoga every day!

One of the most frequent searches that lands people on this blog is “how often to do yoga” or “how many times to repeat…” or “can i do yoga every day.”

Now, how you include yoga in your life is the real point of creativity. I know Ashtanga yogis who have a quite regimented practice for an hour and a half to two hours every day except full moon. I know yogis who attend one class a week and pay attention to their breathing on certain cues. One is at stoplights, one sets aside time at the same time each day.

What has worked for me is dispensing with pre-ordained plans, but making an encounter with the mat unavoidable. In this way, I sit down and listen and follow the signs that arise. So some days it’s quiet & gentle, some rather vigorous. Some days all chant, or all pranayama. I follow my curiosity and passion and usually have something I’ve been meaning to try, or a concept or technique with which I’m playing so this brings me to practice and practice brings me to myself.

Today I have a rather virulent case of the flu, so yoga is special, very low key. When I first got up I thought I’d go for a walk, take some Ibuprofen, do a podcast class & hustle off to work. Boy was that plan a bust.  My fever was so raging I was shaking and sweating and I realized that curtailing the work my immune system was doing would only make the flu last longer.

It’s such a commonplace, but the truth runs deep: yoga means union. So the first yoga I did today found me. I wrapped up in a blanket, then piled on four more, til I was immersed in the sound of my own breath. Have you noticed a deeper quality to your breath when you are fighting infection? Becoming profoundly connected to that rhythm, the feeling, sound, being so exhausted that the breath usurps your entire consciousness for a few minutes, this can actually be a gift. It helped me realize that fighting my own immune system would prolong and complicate a battle I really just needed to turn myself over to.

So my practice on the mat has been really restorative: quiet, gentle attention oriented pranayam, vitparita karani, lots of bolsters. Forward folding for slowing and comforting the mind, backbending for stimulating and supporting the immune system. And of course lots of water, sleep and vitamin C.

I look forward to getting back to my surya namaskar, shoulder opening, heart opening, inverting, playing, sweating practice. But even on a day like today it’s good to go to the mat and find out what I’ve got. Union means finding out what’s there before beginning to make demands, and then to desire and do things nurturing for what you actually find.

So, yes! come to the mat, find out what you’ve got today and indulge it with yoga. Whether it’s asana, pranayam, meditation, mantra responding with integrity to the needs you actually find in that moment of stripping away is really the beginning of your yoga.

2 thoughts on “Listen to your body: do yoga!

  1. I hope you’re feeling better soon!

    This is one of the many things I am loving about yoga: Doing the yoga that is right for you today – not what you did yesterday or what other people might be doing.

  2. Hi there! Thanks – I started feeling tons better just by surrendering my body to its work! I’m almost fully fit now.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying this adaptive prayerfulness, too! It’s one of my favorite parts as well. Thanks for being here!

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