Roll out your mat challenge

At Tim Horton’s it’s “Roll up the Rim to Win” time. Most often the message is “Please Play Again”. While not the message you may be hoping for, it’s the perfect mantra for a yoga practice. Instead of rolling up the rim, “Roll Out Your Mat” to win and “Please play again” and again. But with this game, you win each time. You win time spent with your Self, taking care of your Self and learning a little bit more about your mind, body and spirit. Paraphrasing what Judith Lasater said at a workshop, one reason we are drawn to roll out our mat is because our soul is lonely for us.

I go to a lot of classes and I do some yoga at home too. It’s easier just to go to a class for many and there are many benefits of practicing with others and with a teacher. Not to mention, all of us yoga teachers would be out of job if we all stopped going to class. I have found it difficult to make a regular home practice stick. Slowly, my resistance, my perfectionism is being worn down and with a playful spirit, I am establishing a home practice. Advice from those who have a daily practice is to do it first thing in the morning. You can even do some (or all of it) in your bed.

Another helpful idea is take it in baby steps. Kate Potter said that when she was growing up her mom’s daily mantra was “Have you practiced (your dance, piano, etc…)? Do just 10 minutes.” It worked with my son’s oboe playing. Only I did not have to remind every day. He just took up the practice on his own for the most part. 10 minutes a day can go a long way. As a new year’s resolution, my hooping instructor’s whole family have been hooping daily for 10 minutes together and their son suggested that they add 10 minutes of other props too. This illustrates the fact that motivation follows action, not the other way around. I tried this out myself with hooping when I joined a hooping challenge on facebook, and my hooping improved a lot during the duration of the challenge. Then I stopped. Which brings me to the use of games.

Games can be fun. There is accountability and social contact when you play a game and little challenges along the way. (I love this TED talk about why we should spend more time playing games.) I started a little game a couple weeks ago, sending out a bite size challenge to my yoga students and myself. ( For example, do tree pose, or massage your feet.) The Olympics having just ended, I set levels of achievement of bronze – did it once, silver – did it twice and gold did it three or more times before the week was up. One student declared herself platinum, having done tree pose everyday.

Why would you not? Countless useless reasons. I observed myself one morning resisting massaging my feet, but I did it any way. Once I was aware of the absurdity and of the situation and resistance that comes up when I try to make myself do something I should, I was reminded why I do yoga. All the wins listed above which are in short the definition of yoga, union with your true Self. Kate Potter advises a yoga home practice of 10 minutes a day of whatever it is that you need. Some days it may be longer, but it is a great place to start. Eve Johnson started her yoga journey with only five minutes a day and she eventually became an Iyengar instructor in Victoria and is the author of a blog dedicated to helping others to establish their own home practice. I love her Five Minute Yoga Challenges. If you need any more encouragement, Judith Lasater writes about commitment to a practice.

Gentleness and compassion go a long way where brute force has failed for me. Mary Oliver puts it this way:

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Roll Out Your Mat challenge this week is to play with your pelvic floor. 

(While men do not suffer incontinence as often as women, this will benefit the prostate in men.)
For a review of what we did in class, watch the videos below as you play along with Jaki Nett as she explains part of her Felt Sense Method to treat incontinence. Jaki is an Iyengar teacher and this video is from a workshop she did in Warsaw. Her book, “Crack in the Mask“, is available in town at the Yoga Studio South if you happen to be in Calgary.

I love the comment that Jaki makes in video (at 2:15), “Consciousness is the vehicle for prana. And prana is also called the healing energy. So if we want healing energy to go to a place in our bodies we have to put our consciousness there. We have to know where to look so it knows where to go.”

The explanation continues here…

Start with Bronze – do it once
   Please play again…
          to Silver – twice
                  Please play again…
                       you’re Golden – 3 or more times before next Wednesday.

(Bonus points: Here is an additional 30 minute practice video involving the whole pelvic floor.)

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