For the past eight years, I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with my yoga mat. It’s not the yoga mat’s fault, of course. It’s just a basic blue mat that has served me well over the years – from my first attempt at “downward-facing dog” beneath the awning of our former travel trailer to my umpteenth “warrior” pose in an apartment above Bourbon Street. No, it’s not the mat’s fault that our relationship has been rocky – it’s mine.
Ever since I learned a few basic yoga moves from this teeny how-to book, Collins Gem Yoga (HarperCollins Publishers, 1999), that Dan, the non-yogi, ironically owned, I’ve enjoyed every minute of my yoga routines. Unlike other forms of exercise – especially anything that involves running, jogging, or sprinting – I’ve always felt good while doing yoga... and for a long time afterward. Gently pushing myself to stretch into the poses – even some of the tougher ones – has improved my strength, my flexibility, and my mental health. No other activity provides such equal benefits to my body, mind, and soul.
In the beginning, I relied on blocks, straps, and other accoutrements to complete some of the poses, but nowadays I have no need for such crutches. I simply unfurl my trusty yoga mat, pop in one of several DVDs I’ve procured over the years (or opt for Wii Fit yoga instead), and start bending. I’ve even attempted, on occasion, to use weights with my routine – something that one book dubs Iron Yoga (Rodale, 2005).
The problem is that I have yet to be consistent with my exercise. Sometimes, I’ll do my yoga poses every day for weeks on end, and then suddenly go several months without once unfurling my poor mat. It has nothing to do with the yoga itself – it’s my schedule (or lack of one) that’s usually to blame. When I’m under deadline for a travel guide, for instance, all else seems to fade away – including my beloved yoga. Sadly, I’m not the only writer who allows stress to usurp exercise – Susan Mills (a.k.a., Lazy Writer) lamented this very thing the other day on her blog.
I’m trying to make a concerted effort to create a schedule for myself – one that includes a round of yoga every morning – if for no other reason than that I want to feel good every day – that, and I’m hellbent on maintaining a “raven” pose for longer than two seconds. But these days, I have another blockade to my yoga consistency, and it’s in the form of a small furry creature named Ruby Azazel. I don’t know what her deal is – but ever since she came into our lives ten months ago, she’s been obsessed with my mat. Every time I unroll it, she emerges from her hiding-place-of-the-moment and starts messing with it. She’s even been known to hide underneath it, preventing me from getting started. Even after I manage to coax her off the mat, she’ll return a few minutes later, only to bite my ankles while I’m trying to do my “sun salutation” or an equally meditative pose. Perhaps she doesn’t think yoga’s good for me. Perhaps she’s worried that I’ll one day rival her in flexibility (fat chance!)... All I know is that it seems awfully unfair for a girl who was born with the innate ability to do “downward-facing dog” (not to mention lick her own arse) to prevent me from giving it a go myself. But try telling her that!
4 hours ago