After two false starts, I rebooted the Yoga Project this week and vowed that this would be the last beginning. That was Tuesday, and so far I’ve practiced twice: that night I did Sage Rountree’s Yoga for Athletes- Basics, and I just finished another Yoga for Athletes practice, this one focused on turning inward. That’s more yoga in less than a week than I’ve done in quite some time, and I still have tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday to continue adding to my running tally…but I’ve been struggling all week with intense feelings of guilt.
The guilt comes from a couple different sources. For one thing, if I’m doing yoga it means I’m taking time away from running, and if I’m running it means I probably won’t have time for a yoga practice that day. For another, I’ve made this big deal about how I’m doing this whole big “Project” thing, but I’m not exactly a living embodiment of yogic energy these days. I mean, is two practices a week even worth mentioning? Some people do yoga every day, and I’m failing to manage that. As I’m sure you can tell, it’s a very productive way of thinking about things.
It wasn’t until I was practicing this evening that it really hit home for me that yoga is as much a mental exercise as it a physical one. I mean, I’ve known that for a while, but it wasn’t until I thought about it in the context of the guilt I’ve been experiencing that I was able to make it resonate in a really meaningful way for me. In her Yoga for Athlete’s series, Sage Rountree talks a lot about doing “what’s right for now”, whether that means breathing differently while you’re running, or deciding to go into child’s pose instead of a vinyasa cycle between sets of lunges. My feelings of guilt are a direct reflection of the degree to which I’ve managed to cultivate neglect for what’s right for now. What’s right for now is practicing when I have the time to do it and enjoy it; balancing a yoga practice with running; taking time to rest when I need it; and not forcing myself to do something because I’ll feel guilty if I don’t.
In the end, sometimes the most valuable practice is choosing not to practice, and to do something else (or nothing) instead. Even though it has taken me a while to realize it, this is just as much a part of the Yoga Project as any podcast or studio class.