This will not be a three-sentence post like the other Creativity Break posts.
I cannot believe I already couldn't maintain a daily practice past a week. If I'm honest, I didn't even get past the full week. I counted movement on Day 8 that is part of my normal day as my practice because I did a bit more of it. Yeah, no.
Let me give you an idea of what my days look like, movement-wise, and how it's easy to think I've practiced when I really haven't:
I am increasingly teaching about all those ways in which movement throughout the day matters as much if not MORE than a specified period of daily exercise with the remainder spent sitting at a desk or behind the wheel or on the couch. I believe in the vital importance of moving more of your parts in more ways throughout more of the day. And in that respect, I practice what I preach.
So why do I want so badly to get back on my mat?
Getting on the mat is physical work. It's a chance to really inhabit this body that I've spent a lifetime moving. I've moved onstage and in private. I've moved to tell stories and to teach others. I feel intelligent in my body. I feel graceful. I feel powerful.
I learn on the mat and through my body. Getting on the mat has given me insight into injuries (ankle, pelvis, shoulder) and helped me heal them. Getting on the mat can be playful or challenging or calming. It is inward work.
I spent my first three decades sweating in dance classes and exercise classes. Movement up until then had either been performance or otherwise externally driven. I got serious about yoga in my late 20s and immediately understood its therapeutic benefits. When running hurt my knees, I got on my mat and figured out at least one of the problems. In my mid-40s, I ran a 10K with my sights set on a half-marathon. The damage to my ankle joint over decades of dance injuries barely survived that 10K. It took the next four years of slow, diligent work on the mat to unwind my movement patterns and re-train my leg, ankle, foot so that I could walk without pain again. Only after all that effort on the mat could I know that running or skipping wouldn't hurt my joints (though I have not tried to run a mile even still).
I've spent the past four years using my body knowledge on the mat again, this time to recover from a frozen shoulder. I still don't have full range of motion. And I'm again in the process of unwinding the habits of decades to relearn how to use an even more complicated joint.
I have all this experience of utilizing my yoga and body knowledge for my own betterment. I used to inspire my personal practice by studying with my teachers (one now deceased, one far away) and colleagues (all far away since I moved). I used to have a set time of day. I used to have local peers, students who didn't need me to guide them but appreciated sharing space while we all practiced.
I'm starting to wonder if all my (necessary) therapeutic use of yoga has removed play and fun from getting on the mat. I don't have peers to practice with here, which I had before I moved to MN. In Michigan, colleagues and students and I would get together and practice individually in the same space. Maybe I have to create that somehow here. It wouldn't be daily, but it might be enough to motivate me to do it on my own between times.
Just sitting with this today, sitting with my unwillingness, digging through why I have and have not practiced during periods of my life, makes it clear that it isn't outer accountability I need. Even declaring a 40-day commitment publicly didn't do it. I lied to myself and to the public by Day 8.
The motivation is going to have to come from me.
I have looked at my calendar. Rather than writing "Practice" on each day, I carefully chose specific times each weekday and wrote the actual time down. An appointment with myself. Some appointments are 30 minutes, some 45, some 20. I tell my students, it doesn't need to be 90 minutes to be a practice. Time to listen to my own teaching.
I do not know if this will work any better than what I've been doing. But I am done with my rebellious, "I won't" attitude.
I keep thinking of something a friend shared with me. "Paint until you feel like painting."
Yep. I'm going to practice until I feel like practicing.
Getting refocused with the Creativity Break. Day 1.
[And in case you read the first day of the Creativity Break, here is a photo of the broken Sarasvati that gave me the impulse to do this in the first place.]
Recognizing (yet again) how my active end range of motion isn't anywhere near my passive end range. Arm and shoulder work trying to unwind some fiercely held movement habits. Taught my husband how to help with one of those.
It's been an office, email, phone call day. I won't call it a practice, but I made a concerted effort to move my arms and shoulders frequently today to counter all that desk work. I plan to do more active end-range work all weekend.
Creativity Break - Day 6
Found myself with a bonus 45 minutes. Treated myself to Free Movement with Movement Parallels Life reinforcing that my ROM (range of motion) ends way sooner than most people's. Ended with some hip and leg work on the floor.
I'm exhausted, run-down, and hoping I'm not getting a cold. My practice tonight is short, but challenging. I've been watching folks play with blankets and sliding and thought I'd give it a try.
Coming home after a weekend retreat is a good reminder of all the ways it's hard to get on the mat in daily life. Mondays have four clients, two classes, one school pick-up, lots of driving, plus laundry and dog walks. I spent some time tonight after all that with a little wall dancing courtesy of @movementfluency (Instagram) and her #unprops challenge which led me to some flowing, calming, ground work.
A long drive home today, unloading, unpacking, laundry, spending time with my son home from college, meeting one of his best friends, and dinner with my in-laws. I still have work to do to prep for this week and catch up from last week. So my hands are getting to work it out: in the car, sitting and visiting, at dinner, and during computer breaks.
Lots of short videos from colleagues for inspiration led to a lot of ground work. Then a lot of standing poses as prep for teaching two workshops. Last, I gave myself the opportunity to take a class, wherein I realized yet again it's time for me to own the title Master Teacher.
I have been feeling creatively stuck when it comes to getting on my mat, and it has recently prevented me from doing so more often than I care to admit. This morning, I discovered a small figurine of mine was broken. It was a representation of Sarasvati that I had received as a gift. Sarasvati is a the Indian goddess of music, passion, and protector of creative energy. And she was broken. Actually, she was still in one piece but she had come apart from her base and from the beautiful, broken lattice work she sat in front of. I was surprised how sad I was to discover her there, on her back amongst the collection of stones and personal and spiritual tokens I've been given or have collected over the years.
As someone who loves to use metaphor for a doorway into healing, I immediately made the connection to my feeling of being stuck creatively in my body. And here was Sarasvati, broken free of her base. Clearly, it is time for me to break free from a personal movement practice that felt lacking in creativity.
With that in mind, and with a couple suggestions to refine the experience, I am declaring myself on a 40-day movement challenge. I need accountability so I'm declaring it publicly including here on my blog. Every day, for 40 days, I intend to explore on my mat. Sometimes that will be a long practice led by a teacher or movement specialist I follow. Sometimes, it will be an exploration of a body part or a pose or a limitation I'm working through.
What does it mean for you, dear reader?
It means a daily three-sentence blog post. I will share them here on my website, and on Instagram (@healingandbalance). I don't know how that restricted form will color what I share, but I will share it daily from now until November 20th. (There will still be regular, longer format, Deep Thoughts kinds of posts here and there.)
Now that you know the why and wherefore ...
... Day One
Think back to childhood. Remember who you were then. Playtime Yoga!
Deep, and not so deep, thoughts on bodies, movement, yoga, art, shoes, parenting, dogs. You know, life.