I have written about yoga before (YOGA AND EMOTIONS), and have mentioned this topic in several of my other posts. I am well aware that this is kind of an overdone, well-covered, deeply examined subject for many modern-day human beings. Who needs one more article about yoga? However, I am going to write about it again, right now—GODDESS ATTAINABLE style.
Image borrowed from Instagram @stillpoint_yoga (The Goddess Attainable is not in this particular photo, but this is my beloved studio)
If you google “five-minute morning yoga” or any variation of this idea, you will find article after article about the benefits of this kind of yoga. I am not here to discuss science or research, because honestly, I do not really know much about any of it. But since it is apparently fairly acceptable in the yoga community, I do want to share how this kind of yoga works for me in my life.
I cannot always make my adored yoga class at Stillpoint Yoga Studios, with my cherished instructor. In fact, I have been downright slacking, lacking, and flacking in this area as of late. At this point, I am down to about one class, once a month. But this goddess does not indulge in much guilt or regret about things I’m “not doing, but think I should be doing.” Still, I do miss it, and I do want to keep my body healthy during these in-between-times when I am not experiencing the full-fledged benefit of weekly, hour-long, deep healing, yoga brilliance.
Therefore, I have begun of my own accord, this five-minute morning yoga thing. For me this works, because I really do not do well with early morning motivation in any variety or aspect whatsoever. When I am nestled in my comfortable cradle of bed-ness, and my alarm clock rings, it is very, very difficult for me to arise. This Goddess likes to stay in restful dreamland, and has trouble making the transition from soul-floating sleep, to present and earth-bound bodily awakeness. However, once I am actually awake and into the shower (this helps a TON), I have the perfect amount of time before I leave the house, to do a five-minute morning yoga routine. I do not feel too rushed for time, and I also do not feel like it is ineffectual or half-hearted. It just feels kind of perfect.
My abode in the wee hours of the morn
I did not do any research beforehand, when I intuitively began practicing my five-minute morning yoga. I just kind of felt the urge to start this, and so I did. I also do not use videos or regimented routines. I believe so very deeply in the importance of direct, one-on-one communication with the body. I think that having literal conversations with our bodies on a regular basis is imperative for the health of our goddess souls, minds, and of course, bodies. Our body is like our antenna for everything. It is so wise. It knows what we need. And our needs vary from day to day, and even from moment to moment. How can we assume our head—or a video and regimented routines—knows what is best for our body on any given day. Any good instructor will tell her students that we should listen to our own bodies during class. If something does not feel right, we do not push. It is the same with five-minute morning yoga. So, my “routine” is a bit different every day.
Image borrowed from here
At the very foundation of my five-minute morning yoga practice, exists the art of listening to my body and determining what it needs and wants in every single moment. Take this a step further, and this practice goes even deeper when I learn to fully trust and honor the wisdom of my body’s signals. Our bodies speak to us all of the time—often in the form of pain, discomfort, goose bumps, fatigue, gut problems, and chronic ailments, to name a few. Whether or not we choose to listen to these signals and act accordingly is another issue all together. The art of “listening to our bodies” consists of receiving the message + trusting + acting—you must harness the power of all three aspects. This can feel strange if you are the kind of goddess who is always in your head, never in your emotions, and rarely present in your body. If you are working numbers all day, solving cognitive problems, juggling multiple tasks, not stopping to check in with yourself, pushing through meals, stuffing down emotions, and ignoring the very subtle and gentle signals emanating from your fleshy temple, this might be difficult for you at first, and might take some practice.
The simplest way to describe this three-part RECEIVE+TRUST+ACT process, is to:
- Ask your body out loud or in your head, what it wants to do. Literally say, “Body, how do you want me to move?” or “What do you want right now?” or “Where do you need help?”
- No matter what comes back, just trust and try not to second guess. For all of you head-y goddesses, you might just feel blank after you ask this question. Or you might have ten ideas race into your mind all at once. This is just the mind resisting the surrender. If this happens, use that beautiful brain of yours and focus it on your actual body parts. This will keep you focused on your body, and will get you out of your head. You might need to ask the question again. Eventually, you will notice that when you ask this question, your consciousness (your attention) will go towards one area of your body—the body does not really speak in words so much as sensations and urges. Maybe you will just notice your arms—more than any other area of your body—all of a sudden. Or perhaps, your body will just feel like it needs to do something specific, like stretch or twist a certain way. This is kind of like when you feel the need to yawn, your mind does not question this bodily urge. It just allows, and effortlessly, your mouth begins to open, as your yawn commences, naturally. So, you can think of this process as allowing your body to yawn.
- This final step is easy. Once you have received the message and have learned how to not second guess yourself, you just do. Move your body the way it feels like it wants to go. And remember that you do not need to have the whole plan mapped out. You do not even need to know what you need to do with your arm once you have raised it like your body has just asked you to do. Stay very present, one second at a time, and you will not get lost.
Although I do not have a set routine for my five-minute morning yoga, most days I do begin with Cat/Cow. In the morning, our bodies are stiff from sleep, and before we start doing any yogic poses, it is important to gently awaken our spine, stretch it out, and get the blood flowing to this powerful and central location.
Image borrowed from here
Breath in yoga is, in some ways, more important than the actual poses. When you perform Cat/Cow, be sure to inhale during Cow and exhale during Cat. This pose feels SO good!
When it comes to yoga, there are many different types of breath you can use in your practice, but I am a huge fan of Ujjayi Breath, or Oceanic Breath.
“Ujjayi has a balancing influence on the entire cardiorespiratory system, releases feelings of irritation and frustration, and helps calm the mind and body…” -Quote obtained from here
Often, during yoga, when I am moving my body and exerting myself, I completely forget to breathe. We all do. And this kind of breath is a very deliberate and cleansing way to move oxygen in, through, and out of your body. I can be in the middle of a pose and realize that I am not breathing. I will be tense and tight and will actually hold my breath as my body trembles to maintain balance. When I recognize this tension, I instantly begin my Ujjayi breathing and it gets me back into the flow, making up for the last few seconds of lost breath, and re-regulating everything—until I forget to breathe again. The more I practice, the more often I remember to breathe. And the more I utilize my breath in yoga, the more benefits I reap from this life-altering, deeply nurturing, transformative, healing, and truly incredible practice.
I have often found that when I perform yoga, I experience anxiety-like sensations that feel alarming and unpleasant at first. Yoga is this fascinating activity that can feel uncomfortable, and at times, even difficult and strenuous; and yet I find myself deliberately coming back for more. Why?
Yoga has the power to unearth our most deep-seated traumas and vulnerabilities, bringing them to the surface (often in the form of energetic anxiety, and sometimes even physical pain and/or discomfort) for acknowledgement; and through the genius of yogic breath and body work, we can free ourselves of some of this heavy, old, dark, and painful energy; and transform our bodies, minds, and souls into vessels of pure light, freedom, and joy.
This is why I continue to practice yoga, no matter how uncomfortable it can feel for me at times. After I am through with a session (whether it was for five minutes or one hour), I feel euphoric and open—and deeply healthy, if you can imagine “health” as a feeling.
The Goddess Attainable’s (feet and) 5-minute morning yoga location (HOBBIT NOOK to the right)
Every morning when I perform my five-minute morning yoga, I experience some symptoms of anxiety. Cat/Cow is lovely and does not normally trigger any disturbances within me. But as I move into some of the more strenuous poses (a twist, a downward dog, a lunge), I can feel my heart start to race, my stomach start to tighten, and feelings of panic dominate my attention. These sensations are different from the way it feels when I am getting a good work out, heart pumping, and feeling out of breath. This “yoga anxiety” feels more like panic, and feels more connected to my emotions. When I feel this in my body, when I am in the middle of a pose, I begin my Ujjayi breathing. I breathe as I go; breathe as I continue to move through each pose, gently moving, gently breathing, and like magic, the feelings of panic and anxiety dispel. Yoga is like a profound detox for all things dark and disturbing within me, buried so deep, that at times, I am unaware of the existence of such things. And gradually, over time, with practice and patience, I find myself less anxious in situations. My body responds with less intensity to experiences that might have otherwise in the past, debilitated me. Yoga is the perfect form of gentle healing. I never have to push if I am too uncomfortable, and everything is within me, within my body. The healing is always tender and always unhurried, revealing its power over time.
If you are new to yoga, I recommend you take classes at a local studio to get more familiar with the true practice of yoga. At my studio, I took a beginner series of classes where I learned about the philosophy of yoga, and came to understand that it is not just about the poses (the poses are actually just one small aspect of yoga), but about a way of life. My morning yoga supplements the classes, and the classes supplement my morning yoga. This is my practice, and this is what works for me. I invite you goddesses to explore your own yogic path. I know this is a strong-sounding opinion, but I honestly do not know how a woman can achieve goddess-ness greatness, without incorporating this beautiful art into her life. I humbly beckon you to join me.
Artwork by Anna Josefin / Society6