A long winter’s yoga

pavones yoga center costa rica

The snow’s piled thick as cake icing across the roof. The bright white sheet of fluff is reflecting the first glimmers of the new day. Morning light’s still only a gentle nuisance for hibernating Minnesotans. My big toes grace the cold floor. Body achy from a night’s sleep, I rustle down the stairs and find myself a familiar spot on my yoga mat to roll around for a few moments before beginning morning sadhana, practice.

Who would have thought this would be the ritual of a once fervently anti-morning person? The routine’s become steadfast as a fresh cup of coffee, a morning splash of water across the face. A way to consciously, physically bring the things I want to cultivate in my life into awareness at the break of a new dawn. Good morning world; let’s warm up together before we get down to the nitty gritty of the day’s work, shall we?

When I signed up to attend Yoga Teacher Training in Pavones last January, I knew I was in for a dose of self-discovery. I was excited to learn to transpose the love of yoga that I’ve carried with me for over a decade, those hours of practice on my own mat. Excited to see that work finally blossom into teaching ability and to begin sharing my practice with others.

I never thought training would also transform my own everyday actions and routines in such a deep and profound way. That I would find a whole new spunky “muscle” of morning exploration from which to build each day. Sure, I still miss a day or two of practice here and there. Sure, I still get hung up on the old usual fights with friends and family from time to time. But this new muscle is emerging in me, an invisible one that’s growing each morning.

Urban legend has it that it takes around three weeks for the body to create a new habit. Our month training in Pavones gave us ample opportunity to get used to waking up bright-n-early to twists, lunges and downward dogs. But we were captive in paradise. Away from the troubles and cares of our everyday lives. I was definitely out of the snowdrifts. How could that kind of habit possibly thrive back home?

Somehow two months later and a world away from Costa Rica that imprint, the tick inexplicably… persists.

As I finish up my practice and prepare to “get going” again, the energy generated in my body resonates in my actions off the mat: helping family with their morning routines, a gentle nudge to myself to choose who I want to be today. As the day wears on, I find that muscle of yoga practice physically whispering little wisdoms to my soul. These little healthy ways we all know and hear again and again, but are somehow so hard to follow: go to bed an hour earlier, have just one drink not two, call that friend you haven’t spoken to in months instead of texting.

The best thing about this muscle is that it’s not a callous, overbearing, you-better, you-should, you-must kind of gadget. It feels more like listening than obeying. Respecting that morning environment of communion with beings. Yoga.

I’ve had a lot of fun these past few months watering the new seeds of practice I picked up at 200-hour YTT. I’m finding in these first still-frigid days of spring that there are new buds of life beginning to thaw on my mat. I can’t wait to see what else comes cropping up through the cool soil when the ice finally melts away.


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