Our busy lives don’t give us time to have conversations with ourselves, let alone check in with our bodies, our hearts, our souls. Instead, our minds race a thousand miles an hour and quieting that chatter–not completely–but bringing us into the moment can be difficult. There are many ways to foster mindfulness in our day. For this, I prefer yoga.
Taking yoga out of the realm of “workout” and “fitness” helps to remove the western colonization that has permeated it since the early 1900s (and probably before). Yoga postures are good for the body. There are many ways to do them, many speeds, even many temperatures for those who prefer “hot” yoga. But when we disconnect the asanas (postures) from the connection to the self, we’re doing yoga, and ourselves, a great disservice.
Using yoga to have a conversation with yourself is a skill that, especially if you’re not used to tuning in (And let’s face it, many neurodivergent people are taught to NEVER check in with themselves, lest they have a different answer than the neurotypical world in which they live.), needs to be built up over time.
How to begin?
First, find a set of poses, a teacher, or even a particular philosophy of yoga that resonates with you. If you’re not flexible or don’t want to move at a fast pace and work up a sweat, then find a teacher who understands accessiblity, not just uses it as a buzz word. Find one who works at a slower pace, who is more about the sensations rather than the forcefulness of the postures. May I suggest the Chicken Yogi Club if you’d like a place to start?
Next, release all expectations. Do what you can, how you can. Don’t worry about a lot of props or a yoga mat, if you don’t have those things. Find a place to work where your feet won’t slide and you can find a stable balance. If you need a walker or a cane, keep it or the back of a chair handy for balance. Most of all, don’t push yourself.
Then, find a routine, maybe 10-20 minutes, and work through the poses, moving when your body says its time to move. Some days your body won’t want to stay still. Other days you can sink into the poses and relax. When you’re done, ask yourself how you feel. If you don’t have words or an easy answer, don’t pressure yourself. Simply check in. Listen. A body that hasn’t been listened to will be silent until it realizes you’re ready to hear.
Every day, once a week, the routine doesn’t matter so much as the act of listening. Begin the conversation. See what unfolds.