You’ve heard of KonMariby now, right? If not, it’s what is sweeping the nation with the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Marie Kondo, the author of this book, even has her own Netflix specials! The (super simplified) premise is basically to hold each item you own in your hand and if it brings you joy, keep it. If not, thank it and toss it out! From her website, “People around the world have been drawn to this philosophy not only due to its effectiveness, but also because it places great importance on being mindful, introspective and forward-looking.”While I am a HUGE fan of minimalism and simplicity, the idea of KonMari sounds exhausting. Who has time to go through EVERY item in your home and do this (besides our beloved Mary)? So I decided we need a shortened version of KonMari to clean up our lives:
Come to yoga.
If you feel better, keep coming!
If not, thank yoga for its time and let it go. 🙂
Simple, right? There may be a little more to it than that. Let me explain…
There are times in life where our yoga actually works against us and we believe it isn’t bringing us joy. Sometimes when we practice yoga regularly, we start noticing some unhealthy habits we have carried along the way: self-judgment, needing to push harder, be better, faster, perfectionism, competition, self-loathing. You name it and it can come up in Yoga. Think of these moments as the part of KonMari where you have to take everything out of the drawers, the closets, the cabinets. You have to organize it and see it all before you can let go of what you don’t need or what doesn’t bring you joy. It’s not the yoga that doesn’t bring you joy anymore, it’s that you can no longer continue the path your own and be so self-critical. You can no longer unsee those unshiny parts of you. Those unshiny parts are the parts that don’t bring you joy any more. Let those go and the yoga will bring you joy again!
There are a few other times your Yoga might not bring you joy. At first most of us need the more challenging physical practices to get us out of our head. After a while we find the fast, hard physical practices actually keep us stuck. We think we can’t do yoga if we can’t move the body. Something happens and we get injured or the body slows down and the mind says, “Holy hell if I can’t move faster, push harder… then I am awful at this.” Or once we find the body knows what to do, the mind says we don’t like yoga any more. The mind says, “I’m bored. I’ve got this… What’s next?”
My teacher, Sarah Powers, used to ask us, what will you do if your body gives out on you? How will you practice yoga then? My other teacher, Max Strom, would say if your yoga isn’t turning you into a more kind and gentle human being, then find a new teacher. Through learning from both of these amazing humans, I found the magic was in tidying up the mind and heart.
At first we have to address the body. When the body is irritated or cranky, we can’t even begin to deal with the mind. We can do this through breathwork and a series of poses to open and strengthen the body. We have to find a balance of the two. That is what our Mindful Flow and Mindful Movement classes are all about- letting go of the aches and pains of the body!
Once the body is no longer fussy, then we can begin to attend to the mind and heart. Yin is a perfect way to attend to the mind and body at the same time. You move the body into a simple shape, stay there a while and then we train the mind using basic meditation techniques. This provides deep cleaning for the mind. Some of you know after 30 seconds in quiet, all kinds of crap will come up! This is the really messy part. It won’t bring you joy at first. This is when I encourage you not to give the yoga away. (However, a great tool in meditation is to let thoughts come in, thank them and let them go. How very KonMari of you.) Stick with it and settle in, then something begins to change. Thoughts come more slowly. You catch yourself drifting away after 2 minutes instead of 10. You no longer get angry at your teacher for making you stay in a pose left to your own devices. You find moments of connection, stillness and quiet. Might I say, moments of peace.
After the mind is calm and quiet, we add in our lovingkindness practices and send kindness into the world. We can send it intentionally through meditation practices. Or we can become softer, more kind human beings ourselves and our mere presence softens those around us. Think of this as softening your rough edges or purging those pieces of you that are prickly and keep people at a distance. Maybe this gives you more moments of connection, more moments of joy. Then…if it brings you joy, keep it. The rest you can thank and give away.
If you are at a plateau or are feeling stuck in your yoga, we invite you to shake it up. Don’t just give the Yoga away. If you are “really good” at one type of practice, try something new. If you only like hard, fast yoga; try attending a slow class once a week. If you always take the Level 1 & 2 class, why not try an All Levels or something more challenging every once and a while? The practice of showing up, of trying something new, of seeing our mental obstacles and opening our hearts is not an easy one. It isn’t tidy at all. But in the end it will most certainly bring you joy.
With Love (and Joy),