You know when you read about scientists who set out to do an experiment where the outcome sounds obvious? I recently read about a study where scientists had one group of overweight sedentary men change nothing about their diet, and another add an apple a day. The expectation was that the apple group’s cholesterol and overall health would be improved with the addition of the fruit. Instead, the Granny Smith apples that the test group added to their diet had enough sugar to spike their insulin and create further mayhem in their bodies — really the opposite of what you would imagine.
I have done a not-on-purpose experiment this summer on my body. I have barely been doing yoga, I have made it to a handful of classes; instead I sat in the car for not one but two drives across the country and carried a gajillion boxes. My shoulders have certainly suffered as I have used them to hold the tension of all the what-ifs of our move. I would think to myself almost once a day that I really needed to get to my mat to relieve some of this tightness and tension that was building in my body. But carving out an hour or an hour and a half to make it to a class just wasn’t happening.
So last week, I finally rolled my mat back out. I actually was kind of afraid to get on it. I thought my body would hurt and really resist. I believed that no yoga for a whole summer was going to wreak havoc on my muscles, which would scream in agony at the first stretch, because that seemed logical, the same way an apple a day would improve health.
It didn’t hurt. In fact it felt great. It was my mind that was resistant not my body. I was really hung up on the time it would take to practice. I just didn’t feel like sacrificing an hour and a half of my day to go to a class with the result that I wasn’t doing any yoga. I think we all do this in some form or another. We create obstacles or resistance instead of scaling down our expectations. There is no reason to practice for an hour and a half. I can practice for twenty minutes and that is way better than nothing.
I have been practicing consistently for the last week. Sometimes it is a couple of poses and sometimes it is an hour. I feel much better. The hard part was getting back on the mat, not the yoga. I think that so often I don’t take action because I am convinced that I don’t have time or bandwidth for the outcome. I often put off reaching out to friends because I think that I will need to be on the phone for hours to catch up when often a simple note saying I am thinking of them will do, and is certainly better than nothing. If you don’t have time to clean your room, make your bed. If you don’t have time for yoga class that’s fine, do a pose, or two, or three.
I thought my not-on-purpose no-yoga experiment would leave me with an aching body. It didn’t really. It actually showed me that getting on my mat is not actually about my body at all. My body was fine. It got right back on board. What I learned from the experiment was that my resistance is all self created. I don’t always have to do the whole task, project or class, but I can start somewhere and do something…..which is almost always better than nothing.