Taking small steps towards a sustainable yoga practice. By Kat Farrants
Starting a yoga practice can feel daunting. Especially in the current climate, where pretty much everything we do, from the moment we wake to when we sleep, we’re made to feel like we can’t do anything unless we do it properly. Our culture disempowers us. We’re meant to buy the products to make us look better, feel better, the sub-text being you’re really not worth it — unless you splash out on all the expensive products.
Unfortunately, the business of yoga is no different. We’re made to feel like we’re not real yogis unless we buy a brand new, luxurious yoga mat. Not real yogis unless you have the branded leggings. And not a real yogi unless you practice a punishing workout of an hour a day of ‘advanced’ poses — which all lead to a perfect representation of a one-eyebrow stand, or whatever pose it is we’ve seen the skinny Instagram models performing.
But yoga is, at its heart, about connection. It’s about finding our own truth, about a path of self-enquiry and understanding. It’s about meeting ourselves exactly where we are. It’s about knowing that we’re not a project: we’re not born into a faulty body which needs to be fixed. It’s not about achievement of poses or looking a certain way. The journey of yoga is a process of learning to meet ourselves, exactly the way we are. It’s about finding a deep-rooted self-acceptance and compassion for ourselves. It’s about knowing that it’s only when we find that very deep compassion for ourselves that we can truly learn to be compassionate to others.
So in a culture which seems set to scupper the natural yogi that you are, it’s no wonder that starting on the journey to a happier, healthier life seems daunting.
The first thing to do is to realise that you can be a revolutionary. You can go against the tide of consumer life. You can be radical.
What’s the best way to be radical and serve your yoga practice as a sustainable tool throughout your life? Well, to take very, very small steps.
I think of a yoga practice as a toolkit for dealing with the challenges that life brings (and don’t we know, 2020 sure brought some challenges!).
But it’s finding the right tool, for the right day at that moment. You don’t need to bring your heavy lifting farm machinery to put a poster on the wall. A simple small hammer and pin will do. So it is with yoga.
Start with perhaps just sitting on the floor and becoming aware of your breath. And then perhaps start to move, slowly, gently, with intense curiosity. How exactly does it feel to be you? On this day? Start to meet yourself with curiosity, with a gentle spirit of humour, with a loving heart.
And practice just 10 minutes a day. In your dodgy tracksuit bottoms to feel invigorated at the start of each day. Or practice for 10 minutes to take a work break, to stand up, stretch out and take a deep breath. Or, maybe like me, you like to practice in your PJ’s before bed to calm and relax the mind.
Don’t worry about getting that perfect practice space, your sacred space, or even getting your kids, partner, or pets out the way. Just be wherever you are, and use the time to find your connection, to yourself, and also to your home and your loved ones. This is yoga, after all! This is the practice of connection!
Find what works for you. Play around, be curious, and don’t listen or trust anyone who says that you need anything other than an open heart and sense of humour to start a yoga practice.
Kat Farrants is founder of Movement for Modern Life, dubbed ‘the Netflix of yoga’. This January (2021) it will be running a Small Steps challenge, helping people to take small steps to a daily, sustainable yoga practice (from January 9). If you’re looking for a supportive community then join the course FREE with a subscription to: movementformodernlife.com