Taking a Breather…

The long and hopefully hazy days of summer are approaching and certainly from my point of view my yoga practice will be somewhat interrupted. In many ways, I dread the break in routine. In others, I embrace it because, after all, that’s what summer is surely about – a change in daily pattern.

Many yogis, and certainly the type I aspire one day to be, have a daily discipline they follow regardless of time, place and vacation space. Sadly, I confess, this is a plateau I have yet to reach, as when I travel, I leave behind my mat literally and figuratively.

In many ways, a break is a good thing. Stepping away from the perimeters of ones usual flow gives one a chance to look at it objectively; assess where it helps, where it hinders and how to better the experience. I’m all for a break now and then.

This summer however, I am determined to set myself at least one daily objective which will ease my re-entry and might stand me in excellent stead as the next few months whittle away at the strength  I’ve been building throughout the year thus far. My plan is a simple one lest something too adventurous unhinges my resolve. I am thus, starting small.

Each day, I will practice standing in Tadasana (mountain pose), inhale deeply, root through my heels, spread my toes on the mat, draw my inner arches up, spiral my inner thighs in, back and apart – and when my legs are perfectly set and seriously strong – I will draw my belly to my spine, lift my pelvic bone, inhale my arms overhead, fly my heart forward, all the while rooting down through my legs, bringing my hands to the floor and exhaling until not even a tiny bit of breath remains. There I will hang and breathe, watching my inhales and exhales so that my breath deepens as the back of my legs lengthen, and my back extends and loosens, especially at the base where it is prone to seize.

This sounds manageable – even for me.

Often, when I haven’t practiced yoga for a while, the first indication of tightness is this very simple flow. At first forward fold, my finger tips hover inches above the floor, stretching down like limp spaghetti, hopelessly far from the plate. My back feels clinched and knotted, and my hamstrings about as long as a piece of macaroni. It’s a frustrating feeling, frequently a little painful, but so easily avoided by limbering the back with the above rhythm.

When I start tight, I am constantly astounded that after moving through this inhaling and exhaling routine a few times, things miraculously soften, loosen, and stretch. The only effort required is filling ones lungs and stilling ones mind so that the postures work their magic. One can devote 3 minutes or 30, but the benefits will last throughout the day and certainly make re-entry into the yoga space a cinch.

Summers are generally filled with travel, be it by plane, train or automobile. Whether first class or last, the lower back bears the brutal brunt of endless sitting. This is one small way to lessen the toll taken, let alone soak in the oxygen and stretch the lungs.

Could there be any better way to get through a summer?