A yoga buffet

“Remember,” said Roman, “this is a yoga buffet. You can pick and choose. You don’t have to eat your weight in yoga.”

This is Roman’s way of reminding us that we don’t have to do every posture to the absolute limit every day. Every Saturday he is careful to tell us to do “what feels right for your body today,” rather than try to hit some arbitrary target.

I generally work best with deadlines, targets and goals. A vague “do as much as you feel up to today” tends to make me a little bit twitchy. It feels like a license to slack off, and I am the All or Nothing kid. But it dawned on me today that perhaps I have met my toughest challenge yet. Perhaps it’s time to master the things that really don’t come naturally to people in my family. So I’m making a list  (but I’m not going to check it twice, because that would be rather missing the point).

Number 1: Know my limits.

Definitely one of my weakest skills, this will be a tough one. Knowing where my limits are and stopping just short of them will leave me with more energy in the long run. Or so the theory goes. This feels a bit like something Piet Hein once wrote:

“There’s an art to knowing when. Never try to guess. Toast until it smokes and then twenty seconds less.”

I’m going to try not to get to the smoking stage. After all, smoking kills.

Number 2: Remember to breathe.

This is something my friends and family have been working on with me for many years, and a talent I haven’t really mastered yet. I tend to get carried away, focused on that distant and elusive target, and I wind up running just to stay upright. Stopping to breathe and watch the sunset is an important skill.

Number 3: Focus on the positive.

It’s a recurring theme on this blog that I tend to get caught up in the targets I don’t quite reach. It doesn’t matter how many goals you kick if you can only think about the one that bounced off the goal posts. (Look! A football metaphor! Can I claim to be a real Aussie now?? Just don’t ask me which team I go for…) I need to remind myself of my successes on a regular basis.

Number 4: There’s always tomorrow.

It’s really easy to get caught up in an artificial sense of urgency. This has to be done before I go away (even though I’m only going for a week). That’s got to happen before Christmas (even though it has nothing to do with Christmas at all). The other needs to get sorted straight away (but only because there are bees in my bonnet and bats in my belfry).

Sometimes I think our sense of importance gets coupled to our sense of urgency – if we are always in a big rush, we must be very important. But things can be important but not urgent, and they can even seem urgent without being important at all. Most of the time no-one will die if something gets sorted tomorrow, or even next week, rather than today.

Life is a buffet. We don’t have to eat it until we are sick. We have time, choices, and ups and downs. I might have been able to do push ups yesterday, but have to settle for kneeling pushups today. Listening to my body and doing what’s right for me here and now may be the highest metaphor I have ever scaled. But I’m betting the view from the top will be worth it.

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6 thoughts on “A yoga buffet

  1. Joe

    btw I went to a yoga class once. If I recall it was “intermediate” and one step up from “beginner”. I’m pretty sure I did every pose / posture / move exactly as the instructor did it, and was surprised how few of the class participants did. Like, you know, actually going into a squat-against-the-wall with my knees at 90 degrees, not some half arsed sort-of attempt.

    Afterwards I hurt for a week. All over. Including muscles I didn’t know I had.

    (I never went to yoga again.)

  2. Is it really a buffet? I can’t help but gorge myself at buffets. I swam in the river with the dog today. We both rolled in the warm sand on the other side. I remembered what it was like to be unbusy. Sometimes the best yoga is avoiding class. Sometimes the best meals leave me just a little hungry. I envy the Yolngu.

    1. lindamciver

      I think that’s the thing, Scot – it’s about self-control. For me yoga is more about straightening my back than about relaxation, but it’s also a good form of mindfulness. I tend to be focused on not falling over, and on achieving the right posture, rather than on whatever is bugging me this week.
      But I completely agree about being unbusy. There should be a lot more of that in the world!

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