Salutations to the Sun: A One-Year Anniversary
It’s my one-year anniversary, roughly. Before I get pelted with accusatory admonishments about forgetting the exact date of my anniversary, let me clarify: it’s my one year anniversary of daily yoga.
I had been doing yoga before I committed to a daily practice, but it was an on and off thing. Inconsistent practice led to inconsistent results, and being some-what a perfectionist, I found myself frustrated. I reminisced on childhood experiences with my mother’s 1970’s yoga book. It had large, mysterious black and white photos along with step-by-step instructions for each pose, but some of the advice was less accessible, such as the sutra neti (cleaning one’s nostrils with a string!), which sounded too intense and strange to explore at age eight. I stuck with the sun salutation since even back then, my muscles were extremely stiff, and I had aches and pains. When I tried to do forward bends and found my legs bent and my leg muscles sore, I gave up after a few weeks. This cycle went on for years. Later, I took yoga in college. When I did yoga in a class for three hours a day, four days a week, it started out as anything but relaxing since I was so achy and stiff, but by the end of the course, I felt amazing. The pain was gone. Over confident in my healing, however, I stopped practicing, and after a few months, the problems came back. As life continued, term papers, long commutes, an erratic schedule, and long work hours made it easy to put yoga off, but really, I was putting off my own self-care.
Before the pandemic I had begun doing yoga more regularly, but it was really my dark night of the soul experience that made me commit to daily yoga. Being locked in the house for months on end with a pandemic looming outdoors took a major toll on my mental health, and I was in an extremely dark place. When things got worse, I made the decision to try to fix things even though I felt hopeless. As a starting point, I took time to list out things that were bothering me and possible solutions to those problems, and yoga came up more than once. I had high hopes it would improve my flexibility, aid in weight loss, ease my aches, and help me find my inner-chill, which was and still is an important aspect of my self-care needs. I also believed that doing daily yoga would help me alleviate the deep, heart-rending sorrow that had become my reality. I didn’t want my self-doubt and hurt to have the upper hand, and traditional mental health care was financially impossible for me at the time. Knowing that yoga has always offered me a sense of calm and a feeling of peace, I felt it was time to get more serious about committing to daily practice.
I still hesitated on the daily practice though because I couldn’t fathom how to make the time. Wanting to give daily yoga a genuine try, for the first time in my life, I created a structured morning routine with time carved out for yoga following the Find What Feels Good: Yoga with Adrienne calendar. I started the year following Adrienne’s YouTube channel, which offers free daily yoga according to the calendar, but after signing up for the newsletter and really getting immersed in the yoga, I decided to join the paid Find What Feels Good program since ten dollars a month seems absolutely worth all that the program delivers, including members only videos. During the year, there were a few days I had to skip due to travel or illness, but I always made the sessions up on the app. Other times, I was in the mood for evening yoga. Regardless of what came up, the convenient monthly calendar allowed me to stay on track as well as save time and energy since I didn’t have scroll and pick a yoga practice each day.
As the year progressed, I noticed unexpected but deeply meaningful changes. My body felt healthier. I began waking up earlier with less fatigue. As I slowly danced through yoga poses, I gained a sense of mental flexibility. Instant by instant, I could embody life in a new way: as a cat, as a cow, as a bridge, or as a fish, and even though the names are translated from the Sanskrit and are meant to be reference points, it felt like a transcendence of the body. The spiritual stuff of creation, the ever-flowing, multi-faceted expressions of life were something I discovered within myself as I became one with my breath and focused beyond the discomfort of the body. It made me believe that when faced with affliction, I could adapt and change my life by living the change I wanted to see. Yoga became an almost psychedelic experience at times, depending on the breath work and postures of the day, which surprised me. I frequently heard and read about the psychedelic nature of yoga, but I assumed it was hype. It turns out, however, that yoga can take on psychedelic dimensions with consistent practice.
Still, being a busy, worldly person, motivation was essential; one thing that motivated me was the attitude that I couldn’t give up on the yoga because Adrienne didn’t give up on me (her followers). Her emails “love letters” were so sincere and relevant that they really supported me during some painful emotional times. I also felt that just 10 dollars a month was worth it since a regular in person yoga class could cost more than 10 dollars, and that was just for one class! With Find What Feels Good, I could practice in the comfort of my own home even wearing pajamas if needed. I could also adjust the time if I had a busy day. More importantly, the content is excellent. Adrienne talks viewers through each move in more detail than other online yoga teachers, giving her students the body awareness to practice on their own (in theory). Her reminders on how to make small adjustments of alignment, how to modify poses, or that how it feels is more important than how it looks really helped me during my yoga journey, especially when I started getting frustrated by the tense rigidity of my limbs. A year later, I find myself stronger, fitter, calmer, and more flexible. To my pleasant surprise, I can do certain poses that were extremely difficult for me in the beginning. At the same time, there are still poses that are challenging for me, which means I have room to explore and grow. Find What Feels Good Yoga has other features that make it shine. There are a variety of yoga sessions for different moods, vibes, and occupations. Benji the dog is featured in the new cartoon episodes designed for kids. There is a yoga series and a lecture series on the chakras, which I really like. The other instructors in the program are knowledgeable and offer their own unique perspectives and styles. Best of all, Adrienne is funny. When you do her yoga videos, you feel like you have a friend doing the yoga with you, which really can make all the difference.
After a year of daily yoga, I can’t imagine a life without it. It’s there for me when I am tired, achy, sad, or confused. It energizes or soothes me depending on the session. The rising of the sun takes on a more mystical quality, and I can feel the rhythm of life beneath my skin. As I move from pose to pose, I harmonize with life, and somehow, I find myself no longer tossed by the tempestuous waves of cause and condition without consciousness.