self care · yoga

Yoga & Sadness (but in an oddly non-specific way)

I have often come away from a yoga practice feeling calm. I have occasionally come away from a yoga practice feeling frustrated.  But last week was the first time I can recall coming away from my practice feeling sad. 

I was doing a lovely hip-focused yoga practice one evening and I felt a little shift in the muscles in my hip/lower back. It was a new sensation and I felt like I had ‘unlocked’ something important.

A person leans forward, facedown on a pink yoga mat with their arms extended.
A person leans forward, facedown on a pink yoga mat, their arms extended in front of them toward the camera. The feeling is one of surrender.

But then a wave of sadness hit me.

It wasn’t overwhelming and, strangely, it wasn’t even particularly upsetting. It was kind of like the feeling you get when you remember something that made you sad a long time ago. You aren’t sad now, per se, but you are sad for your past self and looking at them with empathy.

I paused the video and breathed through the feeling, letting it wash over me and trying not to do my usual ‘search for the origin of this feeling and possibly make it worse’ routine. The feeling subsided and I went on with the practice. 

Then another wave hit me. The same kind of ‘sadness about a distant event’ feeling.

I’ve had this sort of thing happen before when I wasn’t on the mat, of course. I’ve suddenly remembered something sad or frustrating or upsetting and then temporarily re-lived the feeling but usually something has prompted me to remember it. 

This time, the feeling wasn’t related to any specific past event, and there was no memory or baggage attached to it, it was just there.

A photo of a person with their arms wrapped around themselves, as seen through a rain covered window.
A photo of a person with shoulder length hair, their arms wrapped around themselves, as seen through a rain covered window. The colour scheme is muted, blues and greys and the overall impression is of a sad moment, someone trying to hold themselves together.

It didn’t make me cry, not even those sort of leaky tears that don’t involve sobbing. It was just a quiet sort of internal, ambient, soft sadness.

It kept happening as I moved through the video and it hung around like a chill after I was finished. 

If I hadn’t heard about this happening to people during yoga (and massage), I probably would have spent a lot of time poking around in my memories to figure out what I was sad about and I definitely would have spent a lot more time feeling down. 

Instead, I was able to identify what was going on, finish my yoga practice, get myself a cup of tea and do comforting and reassuring things for the rest of the evening before heading to bed a little early.

A person touches their tea which is in a white cup and saucer that is resting on a brown table.
A person touching their cup of tea with their fingertips as if testing the temperature. Their cup and saucer are white and are resting on a brown table.

And it hasn’t happened again since even though all of my practices last week were hip-focused. 

Have you had an emotion pop up for you out of nowhere when doing yoga or another movement practice? 

Was it just a vague emotion like mine or was it connected to something specific?

To be clear, I’m definitely not asking you to revisit trauma or to bare your soul and I certainly don’t need details (unless it would help you to share them for some reason) I’m just interested to know how this experience has played out for other people.

And, of course, I hope that if or when you find yourself awash in emotion on the mat, you can find the comfort you need in that moment. 

habits · yoga

Moved by Move: Christine H and yoga practice

I know that it wasn’t everyone’s cup of metaphorical tea but I thoroughly enjoyed Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Day practice this past month.

The series was called Move and it was exactly what I needed to start off my year.

The sessions were short – the longest was about half an hour – and they felt very do-able for me this time, even though I couldn’t necessarily do all of the movements in any given session.

I did all 30 sessions in the 30 days but I didn’t do one every day. I had a good run but I had a migraine on Saturday night and had to skip that day’s session. So I did Saturday’s session on Sunday and then did two practices on Monday. I didn’t feel any pressure to ‘catch up’ or anything, I just tied up a lot of loose ends on Monday and I thought finishing off the 30 days of yoga would help me put a bow on the month.

A GIF of a person’s hands tying a white ribbon on a present
Obviously, in this scenario, my January is inside that box. ID: a GIF of a person’s hands tying a white bow on a present wrapped in striped paper the present is resting on a light coloured surface and there are lights and Xmas/winter decorations around it.

Meanwhile, it was a bit frustrating to realize, while doing Saturday’s session on Sunday, that it was so gentle that I could have done it the night before after the worst of my migraine had passed. It might have even helped. But don’t think that I am being hard on myself about it, resting also made sense!

I’ve been doing some thinking about why it felt pretty easy* to stick with a daily practice this time and here’s what I came up with:

  1. The sessions were short so, not only could I literally fit them into my evening, I could IMAGINE being able to fit them in. This might be an ADHD thing but around 20 minutes seemed so feasible but 30 minutes might have felt like FAR TOO MUCH TIME.
  2. I started a new level of meds at the end of November and my ability to judge my capacity has really improved so I am not as worn out in the evenings.
  3. Since my kids are older, the shape of my evenings is different so it is easier to fit yoga in.
  4. Something has clicked for me and her language around movement really resonated with me this time. I was able to tune into nuances in my movements that I haven’t noticed before and that was really encouraging for me.
  5. I have gotten a lot more comfortable with choosing to modify a movement. I used to worry that I was somehow cheating or wimping out but now I just do what makes sense in the moment.
  6. I decided to practice on my own terms. I used to try to be all focused and attuned and ‘good’ and not check the time or not interrupt myself. This time I committed to just being my often-distracted self and, shockingly, that made it easier to get on the mat.
  7. I spent all month writing about building habits and I was putting my own advice into practice on the regular.

I have done short term yoga practices lots of times and I can have long stretches (ha!) of doing a few poses every day but this time a daily 15-20 minute practices feels like something I can actually maintain for the long term.

A GIF of a dog stretching on a wooden floor
I think we have to say ‘Oh, good stretch!’ when a dog does this, right? ID: GIF of a large black and brown dog stretching to lean down toward its front paws and the leaning forward to extend its back paws as it moves along on a wooden floor. The word yoga is in white on the bottom right of the image.

But, since I know me, I know that I need to choose those sessions in advance.

I was tempted to just start this series over again but I think I’ll mix things up a bit first.

I’m going to do this morning series from Yoga with Joelle and see how her insights in these practices help me build on the lessons I found in my January practice.

*I really only had one day that I struggled to make myself do the practice. It took me a full ninety minutes of sitting on my mat, reading, drawing, and texting my friend before I could make myself do the session but I did it. It was half-assed but it was done.

yoga

Not too late to start Yoga with Adriene’s January MOVE practice #YWA

Image description: photo of a dark-haired woman (Adriene) doing a reclining yoga pose on a mat on a hardwood floor, with a dog sleeping beside her (Benji), and a large window, trees and a portion of a handrail through the window.

I’m pretty late to the Yoga with Adriene party. After years of hearing about her from lots of different friends, I finally checked out her YouTube channel, replete with hundreds if not more practices of various lengths and various themes and focuses. January 2019 was the first time I did one of her 30-day “yoga journeys,” where she posts new content every day for thirty days. I loved it and am a convert. What a great way to start the year. I have found that the commitment really keeps me grounded in January. Adriene’s attitude is always welcoming and makes me feel good even on not great days. And both times I’ve done it I have found the final session, towards which the month builds, to be an emotionally powerful experience.

Yesterday (January 2) was Day One of the 2022 version: MOVE. It isn’t too late to jump in. If you’d like to do so, you can sign up here. The videos all stream on YouTube, so they are really easy to access.

And if you’d like to see the schedule, here you go!

Image description: 30-day calendar with six columns and five rows, each square stating a day (e.g. Day 1, Day 2..), a theme (e.g. HERE, OPEN…), and a length of time in minutes.

I started today and I loved the “HERE” practice for Day One. If you decide to join this year, I wish you all the best with it.

Tracy

fitness · holidays · meditation · mindfulness · motivation · yoga

Making Space: Day 28

Today is a good day to make space to rest.

No matter what you were doing/celebrating/enduring/avoiding/ this month, it is almost over and so is this year.

Obviously, things don’t magically change with the end of a specific period of time but that ending can help us to shift our thinking a little bit. It gives us something for our brain to use as a pivot point.

So even though there are a lot of things we don’t have control over, we can choose to think about many things in different ways and we can choose to be kind to ourselves about the challenges we have faced (and the ones we are facing)

Making space to rest can help with that.

When we have restful moments, we can reflect, we can get ourselves out of the automatic momentum of doing and see how we might want to approach things differently.

And, of course, rest is just good in itself.

You don’t have to earn your rest.

You don’t have to have worked hard to ‘deserve’ it.

It is not selfish to rest.

Rest is part of the cycle of living and I hope you can make some space for it today and every day.

Perhaps your current life commitments don’t allow for a lot of rest, but I hope you can find or make small spaces for it here and there.

And, please, don’t fall into the trap that my pre-ADHD-meds-self used to fall into. Don’t think that you have to finish everything first so you can take a long rest because short ones won’t be ‘worth it.’ Wearing yourself out makes things worse, short rests are helpful, and pushing through tiredness over and over is disheartening.

Here’s your gold star for your efforts to make space and to find rest today, whatever that space and rest might entail – ⭐️

Wishing you ease and self-kindness today and every day.

Here’s Adriene with a short yoga break.:

A Take 5 yoga video from Yoga with Adriene. Still image shows Adriene standing on a grey yoga mat. She is wearing exercise clothes and her upper body is turned toward the camera with her left arm extended behind her and her right arm extended in front of her. Her dog Benji is sleeping next to the mat.

And here’s a short guided meditation. It says it is for intense anxiety but I wasn’t experiencing intense anxiety when I did it. I don’t know if it works for that but it was a lovely practice for someone seeking a little extra ease.

A short meditation from the Mindful Peace YouTube channel. Still image shows abstract flowing shapes, some black and some blue against a white background. Text on the image reads ‘Intense Anxiety Breathing Meditation/Mental Reset.’
fitness · holidays · self care · yoga

Three Things From Christine

I tried to make this into a sensible, all-encompassing post with a unified message.

It didn’t work.

So, here are three fitness/wellness/self-care things that are on my mind right now:

1) Being in the in-between

I am feeling no need to try to be productive or to try and accomplish anything this week but I don’t want to fall into the mindless blah of the in-between.

Writing my daily ‘Making Space’ posts and taking walks with Khalee are just enough to keep my days from being too aimless while still being pretty chill.

A dog on a lit leash stands on snow.
Khalee and I like walking on the squishy snow on the path near my house. She sniffs it a lot more than I do, though. Image description: Khalee, my light-haired dog is on her LED leash the path at night. The snow is pitted with footprints from people and dogs.

2) 12 Days of Yoga

This has proven to be more challenging than I thought it would be. I have done yoga everyday but sometimes I am doing the practice from memory rather than going along with the video.

It’s not that I don’t have time and I am physically able to do it. I just have had some unexpected things crop up and I’m surprised at how tricky it has been to work around them and get the video on at a time when I can do it.

That being said, though, I am finding a real difference in how my hips feel when I do the circular sort of movement that Adriene demonstrates to get into extended child’s pose.

A small dog stretches on a purple yoga mat
I kind of wish Khalee would follow this dog’s example and do yoga on her own mat instead of trying to share mine! Image description: a small dog does a big stretch on a purple yoga mat

3) Making Space -> Go Team

Since December 1, I have been doing a daily ‘Making Space’ post to remind us to make space for ourselves in our own lives.

On January 1, I’m going to switch over to ‘Go Team’ daily posts. Those posts will be about encouraging you to be kind to yourself as you adopt new habits and routines in the new year.

Obviously, you can start a new habit or routine at any point in the year. But, since lots of people enjoy using January 1 as a starting point, I’m going to gather up a big bag of encouragement and travel along with you, handing it out like snacks on a road trip.

And, as always, I’ll be awarding gold stars for your efforts.

A gold star on a black background.
Just one of the many gold stars I have in store for you in January. Image description: a thinking gold star against a black background.

Sooooo, what have you been up to since last Tuesday?

Dancing · fitness · habits · holiday fitness · holidays · meditation · mindfulness · motivation · self care

Making Space: Day 26

We’re officially into that weird point of December where no one seems sure what day it is or what’s open or what they are supposed to be doing. And the range of Covid restrictions in various places is amplifying the confusion this year.

All of that adds up to even more reason to try and make some space for yourself – in whichever way works best for you today.

(That’s often the tricky part of making space for ourselves, I find. It’s hard to know what we are going to need from day to day and how much space we’ll require to give ourselves what we need.)

So, I’m just going to remind you that making space for yourself is a valid and important thing to do. You deserve gentle care. You deserve to have room in your own life. You deserve to feel good.

And if feeling good is out of reach right now, then I hope you can find a way to feel as good as possible in your current situation, even if the only space you can create is 10 extra seconds in the bathroom to squeeze your shoulders up by your ears and then let them slowly sink downward again.

Since we are in the in-between and everyone may need different things, I’ve picked out two choices for each video. Relaxing yoga/energizing cardio and meditation for hope/meditation for energy.

I hope you can find what you need today, in these videos or elsewhere.

I wish you ease.

Here’s your star for your efforts. ⭐️

Your hard work counts.

If you need to relax today, this yoga stretch video could be a good place to start.

A 5 Minute Yoga Everyday Stretch video from the Yoga with Bird YouTube channel. Still image shows a person in exercise clothes lying on a white yoga mat in a white room. She is in bridge pose.

If relaxing stretches aren’t your thing today, this fun dance video might be just the movement you need to create some space for yourself.

A wheelchair/chair dance video from the Sit Down AJ YouTube channel. the still image shows a group of people seated on chairs in a classroom/dance studio all in mid-dance.

If you are feeling a bit overdone emotionally today, this guided meditation could help you untie some mental knots.

A 5 minute guided meditation for hope and trust from the Yoga with Manon YouTube channel. Still image shows a person seated cross-legged (in lotus pose) on a purple mat with gold patterns on it), in the background bamboo plants and a small statuette can be seen.

If you are feeling a bit blah and need some mental energy, this next meditation might be the answer.

I was slightly reluctant to post this (quite lovely) meditation because it is labelled for ‘productivity’ and I hate that word. Not everything has to be ‘productive’ and our cultural push for ‘productivity’ is one big reason we need to consciously make space for ourselves instead of being able to let it happen more organically.

However, that being said, it is an enjoyable meditation and is NOT pushing productivity. I feel like that word is in the title to help the video be picked up in searches rather than being part of the channel’s philosophy per se.

So, to be clear, I am definitely not criticizing the channel for putting the word productivity in the title and I am not suggesting that YOU need to be productive. I found this meditation energizing and I hope you do, too.

I hope you find space today, with these videos or in your own way.

Remember: No one else gets to decide what space you need or how you make that space. 💚 you are the boss of you. 😉

fitness · holidays · meditation · mindfulness · motivation · winter · yoga

Making Space: Day 21

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, today is the Winter Solstice so I thought I’d seek out some solstice-related yoga and meditation.

Well, that was an adventure. If you have lots of space in your day today, search YouTube for ‘Winter Solstice Yoga’ – you could spend all day being mindful, listening to music, doing asanas and yoga nidra, and still not run out of videos so I’m sure you can find something to match your time, space, and mood today.

Since I am working on the assumption that you probably have to work to squeeze in your movement and breathing space during December, I selected two short videos.

Please remember, though, that your space-making is for you and for your own purposes so please, please, please, choose what you have time for and what makes you happy.

Here’s your star for your hard work, no matter what that entails for you today: ⭐️

Side note: I just found these printable solstice colouring sheets for adults. If colouring is your kind of things, those could be a good meditative way to make space, too. The good thing about a winter scene is that you don’t even need colouring pencils or crayons, you could use a pencil and a black or blue pen and just fill everything in with patterns.

Here‘s a lovely short yin yoga practice that I found. I enjoyed how straightforward it was and I love doing ‘thread the needle.’

A short yoga practice from the Jiva Yoga Live YouTube channel. The still image shows a person sitting on a yoga mat with their legs far apart. They are wearing winter clothes on top and pink capri pants on bottom and their feet are bare. A winter scene with snow, trees and a snow covered cabin has been photoshopped behind them. Text over the image reads ‘Yin yoga sequence for winter’

And here’s a short meditation/ritual/practice for Winter Solstice that I found very restful.

If you are in the Southern Hemisphere and today is your summer solstice, maybe you would like these practices instead:

A Summer Solstice Yoga Flow from the Vitalized Body YouTube channel. Still image is of a person kneeling on a purple yoga mat in an indoor yoga studio.
A summer solstice meditation from Karen Dibs’ YouTube channel. Still image features an outdoor scene with the instructor sitting cross legged in a hammock. There is a green lawn dotted with trees and several dogs are shown in the foreground.

Enjoy!

fitness · holiday fitness · yoga

12 Days of Yoga: Christine’s Experiment

This isn’t a Christmas thing, it’s a coincidence.

On Monday afternoon, I was thinking about doing some yoga and I remembered a online program I did about 10 years ago ( maybe more.)

In that program, you didn’t just commit to doing yoga every day for a set period of time, you committed to doing a specific practice every day for that time.

The theory was that repetition would give you room to explore and deepen your practice. There would be safety, familiarity, and challenge in moving through the poses each day.

I really enjoyed it. I liked knowing what was coming and how long it would take, and I remember how good it felt to sink into that practice time after time.

Yet, I never did it again because…well… brains are weird in general and mine is especially weird about consistency.

Anyway, I decided that I am going to give repetition another whirl for the rest of this year.

There are 12 days left, including Monday as Day 1.

See, I told you it was a coincidence!

I’ve been posting every day in December with short videos to help us make space for ourselves in our days. This yoga practice is how I am making a little extra space for myself as we close out the year.

I chose this Yoga To Feel Your Best video from Yoga with Adriene because feeling my best seems like a pretty good thing to aim for over the next 12 days.

I’ll check in with you about it a couple of times between now and the 31st.

A video called Yoga to Feel Your Best from the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel. Still image shows Adriene kneeling on on a multicoloured mat with one hand on the floor and her torso twisted to reach the other hand into the air. Her dog, Benji, is sleeping nearby.
fitness · habits · health · holidays · meditation · mindfulness · motivation · self care · yoga

Making Space: Day 17

When I committed to writing this posts for December, I thought I understood the value of making space for yourself during a busy time. And I would have sworn that I knew the rewards of small exercise and meditation practices.

But obviously there are levels of understanding when it comes to this stuff because I am thrilled with how different I feel from doing (and writing about) these things daily.

I hope that you are getting at least some of the same effect.

It can be really easy to dismiss a short practice in anything, whether it is meditation, Taekwondo, piano, or deep breathing. The truth is that those short practices are not only surprisingly good in themselves but their cumulative effect is delightful.

For a little more delight today, here’s Joelle with some lower back reset yoga in a beautiful setting.

(It’s really cold here today so seeing this summery scene was extra lovely.)

A short yoga practice for the lower back from Yoga with Joelle. In the still image, Joelle is outdoors ona dock with lush greenery and water in the background. She lying on her back on a yoga mat with her knees curled up toward her chest and her arms wrapped around them.

And for some restful breathing today, here’s a short meditation to try:

A 5 minute guided meditation for mindfulness from the Declutter the Mind YouTube channel. Image description:?The still image is of a waterfall surround by rocks and trees. The name of the video ‘Short 5 Min Guided Meditation for Mindfulness’ is in the foreground in white text.

As always, I wish you ease and space in your day.

And here’s a star for your efforts: ⭐️

fitness · habits · holiday fitness · meditation · mindfulness · yoga

Making Space: Day 13

Here we are at Day 13!

I hope you have been able to find at least a tiny space for yourselves in our ‘Making Space’ practice so far.

Like I have said before, it doesn’t matter if you do the videos or if you do your own thing.

The key is that you find a little time and space for yourself.

If you haven’t managed it so far, that’s ok. That’s the nature of a practice – it sometimes takes a while.

Here’s a star for everyone’s efforts, either way. ⭐️

Our movement video for today is a 10 minute yoga practice.

A 10 minute wakeup or wind down yoga practice w from the Edyn Loves Life YouTube channel. Still image shows a person in exercise clothing standing in a parking lot with a concrete half-wall behind them and trees can be seen above the wall.

A super short meditation today:

A 1-minutes meditation from the Calm YouTube channel. Still image is of a clear mountain lake. Mountains and trees can be seen in the background.

Wishing you ease and rest today, everyone!