When I first committed to creating a personal daily yoga practice, I quickly became frustrated. I want to do the asanas and breathing, but it seems so overwhelming to go into the room and practice for an hour every single day–even though I know it feels good, I am very happy at the end, and I WANT to do it.
“Life” kept getting in the way. My mind and body fought me.
Luckily a friend who’s been doing yoga many more years than I suggested:
Every day, just stand at the yoga room door and bow. If you are capable of additional effort, go in and do thirty seconds on the mat. Once in the space, if you feel drawn further, then follow that inclination.
It worked. Some days I bowed at the door, physically acknowledging the desire and the simultaneous inability or lack of time to do more than bow. Other days I went in and sat and breathed and moved, not paying attention to the clock, just following my body’s needs and desires. Now once in a while, I take the computer in and stream a class.
I am developing a practice, not a routine.
And I admit–I’ve still had a hard time overcoming that initial inertia; sometimes my disinclination to move wins the argument. Then I remind myself: you don’t need an argument, just set the expectation and do your best to fulfill it. Even if you just bow at the door.
So–I’ve been sick for several weeks with what is usually called “a nasty cold.” It has been especially disheartening since before I was felled by the virus, I’d just experienced a wonderful streak of physical strength building in anticipation of Yoga School–hikes and walks and weight lifting and yoga classes–which dribbled down to nothing as my sinuses did the opposite.
All the ongoing projects–writing of every kind along with the apartment clearing–lumbered to a stop, and are just now rumbling back to life.
Coughing hard while tucked under covers and unable to do anything physical, I comforted myself with memories of Carrot-Nut Bread in the Woods.
My hiking companion and I have been venturing to remote parts of well-known local nature areas; one week she brought sticky home-made baklava, which we ate in a snowstorm while peering over unguarded ledges of the Helderberg Escarpment. The next week I unpacked Carrot-Nut Bread (my absolute-favorite-quick-bread-on-the-planet) to munch along the sunny aqua-blazed Long Path.
To have such fancy food–What an indulgence! we giggled. We keep turning our human requirement for exercise into photo safari adventures and seasonal meditations, and now even our snacks have become more than just nutrition: they are flavorful, exotic even. And delightful!
The first day I could stir from my sickbed, I turned on the lights in the apartment, in case I felt like washing the loaf pan from the Carrot-Nut Bread or organizing papers.
Pretty soon I switched the lights off, but did stand at the yoga room door for a moment.
Then I heated some chicken soup and, dizzy, sat on the futon for a while before heading back to bed.
I had to trust that this illness-induced inertia would pass, even if it was difficult to imagine; that there would be experiences again that felt like Carrot-Nut Bread in the Woods, Baklava in the Wilderness. That I would eventually speak without hacking uncontrollably, get back to the yoga mat and the kitchen.
All the empty time in bed gave me time to realize: I intend to do these activities, intend to do them thoughtfully and gloriously, and then they will became part of my Life, not just another thing to add, or schedule into a routine.
And so it happened. Vinyasa class and gentle machine workouts in a colleague’s gym became realities. Buttermilk Banana Bread with Currants as well as Home-Fried Hushpuppies ventured to the beaver lodge at Dyken Pond. I did more than just bow at the door, most days.
My yoga practice is blossoming, in spite of everything.
Actually, my practice is blossoming because of the setbacks. And continuing intentions, yes, to bow at the door every day.
Carrot Nut Bread from The Joy of Cooking
This recipe is nice because you don’t need butter; the hardest part is grating the carrots and grinding the nuts. I use a hand nut-chopper to grind the nuts. Produces a crunchy surface and moist interior.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and sift together:
1 1/2 cups flour (half white, half whole wheat). Sometimes I substitute 1/4 cup almond flour or mix in other tasty flours.
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (I often put in a little more).
Add 3/4 cup sugar, 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Blend in with a few swift strokes:
1 1/2 cups grated carrots and 1 1/2 cups ground walnuts or pecans.
Bake in a greased 5 X 9 loaf pan about 1 hour. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack for further cooling.
I used mini loaf pans and baked about 30 minutes. Can also be baked as muffins. Exquisite with a little cream cheese spread on top.