How Yoga Taught Me to Listen to My Body

Catherine Richardson
How Yoga Taught Me to Listen to My Body

I’ve always struggled a bit with listening to my body in my yoga practice. Sometimes I move too quickly and realize that I wasn’t quite ready for that advanced flow.

Sometimes pride gets in my way. Sometimes I’m just plain stubborn.

Over the past two weeks, some medical changes have kept me away from my usual yoga practice. All I have been able to think about is the moment I would step back into the warm yoga studio I have come to love. I have been dying to get back to my yoga practice and resume the amazing mind-body I've been on as I have become a more and more committed yogini.

This week marks my official medical clearance to start gradually, carefully returning the practice on which I have come to rely. But as that fateful day slowly approaches, I am being forced to admit that my mother was right (hear that Mom? You win).

Here's how yoga taught me to listen to my body.

Yoga Tells You To Respect Your Body

A combination of a stressful physical and mental recovery and adjusting to new medication has left me tired, off-balance and often even dizzy or light-headed.

I have tried to ignore it. Tried to convince myself that it didn’t mean I couldn’t resume my life this week. But I am slowly coming to realize that the body-consciousness and self-awareness taught in yoga are now more applicable than ever.

I am not ready to get back in that room. It would not be respectful of my body. It would not be in alignment with the principles of yoga. And now that I have admitted that to myself, I am ready to move forward with the yoga practice that is right for me.

Yoga Goes In Your Own Pace

While I know I can’t handle the strenuous flows of the Baptiste yoga classes I typically find so juicy and releasing, I can still make progress in my practice.

In order to feel like I am still moving forward with my yoga journey, I have been focusing on specific poses. After finding some way to warm up without over-stressing my body in its delicate state, I work deeply on specific poses. I try to make sure that these are poses with which I typically struggle.

I have been doing lots of shoulder poses (I am not known for my flexible shoulders). Yesterday I worked into Reverse Prayer for the first time! This detailed focus and real improvement is allowing me to feel like I am not stagnant in my yoga practice without pushing my body too far. It’s the best of both worlds.

Yoga Is Everywhere

Before you think I’m crazy, hear me out. I have been doing yoga in the shower. A very hot shower, to be specific. The warmth allows my muscles to loosen up (one of my favorite parts of the hot yoga practice that I love so much) and the slippery water allows me slide into poses that I would literally get stuck on before reaching my full potential.

Particularly in the shoulder poses on which I have been focusing, I have also been using the walls of the shower to give myself the gentle push into arm binds I would normally not even attempt. I can’t help thinking about how flexible my shoulders will be when I do return to the studio!

So yes, I suppose it’s not exactly the most conventional way to practice (or the most comfortable thing to share with the world online), but it is an amazing way that I have been making yoga work for me in a difficult time.

In fact, I’m confident that even the healthiest of yogis could benefit from what I have come to refer to as shower yoga. Hey, when you really think about it, it’s a pretty good idea!

So, until I’m ready for a more strenuous yoga practice, I’ll keep doing yoga my way, and loving it!