Last year was the beginning of my love affair with yoga, and what a whirlwind romance it was! We met every day, full of passion and first love, rose-coloured glasses firmly in place, and everything was amazing.
This year is different. Almost from the moment the clock struck midnight on New Year's eve, our relationship changed.
Gone were the long, cozy mornings we had available to hang out for hours. Now I had to go to work in the morning, and was sometimes too tired for yoga afterwards.
Gone were also the many making-your-heart-beat-faster moments of progress and breakthroughs. For the first months, I saw many of those, and smugly thought to myself that I must be a natural.
Progress is a lot slower these days. Partly because I don't practice daily, but only about 4 times a week (I do want to change that, but right now I seem to be unable to).
But also because I have been focusing on different aspects of the practice. While last year was all about arm balances and wanting to master the most impressive looking poses, now I am focused on getting this tight body of mine more flexible and supple.
One of the poses I have been working on all year is One-Legged King pigeon pose. It requires flexible hips (an area I'm improving in, veer so slowly), a flexible back and open shoulders.
My teacher Kino is showing you how to do it:
And here is my progress in 16 months:
The hips have opened up a lot in the 16 months between the first and the fourth photo. The back and shoulders are a much slower and more subtle progress. It honestly feels like I may never manage to touch my foot to my head at this point, but here is the thing: I have accepted that.
Last year, I was often very impatient and frustrated when progress didn't come fast enough for my taste. It was a hot and heavy love affair, with emotions running high.
Now I am truly learning patience. Again, it's a slow process, because I am naturally an impatient person. But I know that I will be doing yoga for life, which means I have all the time in the world to practice. And one day, it will all come.
What I enjoy nowadays is being more creative with poses and having fun.
Like dressing up in a tutu for #tututuesday:
Doing the YMCA, yoga-style:
Trying my hand on some fun editing:
I am loving this journey. I feel stronger, calmer, and more accepting. The biggest benefit for me is that I learnt to truly, fully love my body. I feel more confident in it than I ever have before.
The other two huge improvements yoga has brought into my life are that I am learning patience, and the concept of enjoying the journey as opposed to the end result. Such an important life lesson.
Also, no matter where life will take me, I know that yoga is always there for me. I can have it by my side, like a comforting friend, helping me through changes, ups and downs, and external turmoil.
Now, let's look at some more comparison photos, shall we? Because even if progress is subtle, it does exist:
Seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana)
Pyramid pose (Parsvottanasana)
Please excuse the terrible photo quality, they are stills from phone videos (and look how teeny Nina is!):
Bird of paradise pose (Svarga Dvijasana)
Firefly pose (Tittibhasana)
Here is a recent triumph: Learning how to do chin stand! Allie from The Journey Junkie broke it down in a way that was so easy to understand, I got it! If you want to learn it, click at her awesome tutorial here.