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Start with What Feels Good (And then have the courage/patience to work on what doesn’t)

May 19, 2021

 

JUMPSTART WITH GENTLE MOVEMENTS
There are no extra imaginary bonus points for thinking about recovery. You have to actually do the work. But what happens when you don’t know where to start? You start with what feels good. Get curious about your body and ways you can move to target obvious areas of tension. Your lower back hurts, you might start with a gentle supine twist. Your hamstrings are tight, you might work through a half splits. 

The key is to start moving. We can always fine-tune the focus and elaborate on the specifics, but you have to start. And while the movements that “feel good” might not be the end game, bc let’s be honest, if they were you wouldn’t be continuously in pain, they are less likely to do more harm. The minute it doesn’t feel good you know you’re moving in the wrong direction. 

TRUE RECOVERY TAKES EXPLORATION
And while we start with what we know, we have to accept that the root of the pain most likely lies elsewhere. The only way to learn more about ourselves and what might work for us is to be curious and explore various movement patterns. The trick is to remain curious and not judgmental. So while you might benefit from a supine twist for your lower back, you might get more traction from strengthening your core muscles or lengthening your hamstrings than you would from working on the obvious. 

This is also why it’s so important to move the body in all three planes of motion and have some form of repetition on the mat. In this way you can minimize distraction and pay attention to what truly needs your focus, without overlooking less obvious areas of the body. 

IT’S NOT ALWAYS GOING TO FEEL LIKE DISNEYLAND (Right Tension)
I remember the early days of practicing on my mat and working through some ankle issues from playing soccer.There was no way my ankle was going to cooperate in Warrior One or Hero’s pose. I could barely create flexion OR extension past neutral. Sitting on my heels was agony. And that’s how I knew that I had to sit on my heels. 

In yoga we have this thing called “right tension” - the intersection of discomfort and transformation. Somehow we have this idea that everything is supposed to feel like rainbows and unicorns, but the reality is much more cut and dry than that. Most times you have to work through the gunk to get to the other side. It’s not so much about force, but thinking of gradual progression over time. Your job is to deal with what is and not avoid discomfort. It is impossible to get better if you avoid what needs your attention. 

I used to look forward to Warrior One and sitting on my heels, because i knew it would help me get better. So I implore you to journey into those spaces that wake you up. Be curious. Explore. Start with gentle movements. And then… be patient.

EMBRACE THE MARATHON
If the goal is gradual progression over time, then we realize that transformation is a marathon mindset, not a sprint. Have the courage to be patient. You take one yoga class, don’t expect magic. You take 20 and still have discomfort? Keep going. These are tools to use for the long-run. Even after you feel better, you keep going. 

It's such a mental shift when we realize that good habits aren't done just to achieve a goal, but to sustain a way of life. You don’t just eat well until you lose the last five pounds, you eat well indefinitely because you like the quality of life it provides. The same is true of your recovery. Settle into a routine that you can maintain and let go of the timeline. You have a lifetime to figure it out. But you have to start somewhere. 

 

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