Do you ever go to your mat and realize your whole body feels like a bag of bricks?
The other day I did some handstands and couldn't believe how sore and tired I felt!
What the hell? I thought. I could hardly hold myself up for more than a few seconds. I didn't even do any handstands the past few days!
I had to stop myself for a moment, take a few deep breaths, and smile.
At that moment, even though I wasn't sure why my body felt heavy, tired and exhausted, it was important to acknowledge this, and adjust accordingly. Learning to respect my body is one of the greatest things yoga has taught me.
As I set goals for any yoga pose, like with my journey to handstand, I constantly have to remind myself to stay patient and allow for plateaus or challenges to come along the way. Be here now, I'll tell myself. Today is a new day.
Each time I show up on my mat, I have to re-assess how my body is doing and what I need from my practice in the moment.
That's actually the beauty of the yoga practice: it teaches us to modify our practice on the days when we aren't feeling 100%. It teaches us to be present. To acknowledge where we truly are, in the moment.
And, hopefully, not to force anything.
If you've been working out your muscles and doing some sweaty, challenging classes that involve arm balances and inversions, or maybe you're doing some weightlifting or cardio training, chances are, you'll wake up some days feeling exhausted.
Sometimes our emotional state can make our bodies feel lethargic, too. If you're going through a grieving period, making some big changes in your life, or working on your personal healing, you're using a lot of energy and you'll feel that in your body.
So, how do you adjust your practice when you are exhausted or overwhelmed? (Or, for the ladies, when you're feeling the intensity of your cycle?) What can help you relieve some of the heaviness and still stay committed to a daily yoga practice?
Here are the three things I like to do on days when I think I'm too tired for yoga.
1. Put my mat down, or my yoga pants on, or both-- first thing in the morning. It may sound silly, but on days when I'm tired, I can feel too lazy to make the effort of getting my yoga mat out of the closet and rolling it out. Or reaching into my dresser drawer to pick out a pair of yoga pants, and change into them. Similarly, it might feel like a ton of effort (toooo much effort) to get in the car and get to the studio. So, eliminate that challenge. Start your day by doing the thing you want to avoid. Put down your mat. Put on your yoga pants. Start your car. Once you've done that, you're on your way, and you won't have to spend the day making excuses not to practice.
2. Child's pose. Downdog. Breathing. Shavasana. Simplify your practice. What would your practice look like if you only practiced the poses today that feel good in your body? The ones that feel amazing, time after time? The ones that you don't resist, but enjoy? There you go. That's your practice for today. Even if it means being reclined or seated the whole time, do it. Go for it. Your practice is meant to nourish you, and right now what you need is some rest and grounding.
3. Remind yourself that you're OK. On the hard days, it can feel like these feelings are going to last forever. But if you look back at your life, you'll see how you've pulled through so many challenging situations, and you've overcome so much. You will get through this, you will get back to feeling energetic and empowered, and you're allowed to be here now, too. It's OK to be tired. It's OK to be overwhelmed. The important part is that you still give yourself the TLC you deserve. Let your practice be the time in your day where you let yourself be OK. Breathe. Breathe so much and so deeply that you feel your body relax into this state of OK-ness. ;)