I like to dust off the stress of the day with a gentle and soothing yoga routine. Even if I don’t have too much time, I make sure I roll the mat out for 15-20 min. A few restorative poses make a big difference. You don’t want to go to bed exhausted, because you will wake up the same way – puffy eyes, rusty joints and tight muscles. And worst of all – a foggy brain…
The best thing is to try not to stuff your self with food immediately after work. I usually get a glass of warm water with lemon juice if I am starving or tired. After a few sips, I no longer crave to eat as much and can enjoy the practice much more. Of course, you can always do it later, just before going to bed, after having digested your supper.
The key is to keep your breath fluid and steady and to luxuriate in the practice even if the mind recalls what happened during the day. I like to stay focused on the breath and to sink into the poses, and not necessarily “do” the poses. We do things all day. The evening is a time to wind down, to undo.
This is the real secret to a replenishing night yoga practice. Instead of trying to fit into a frame, you are accepting the form as a vehicle for the movement of your consciousness. Sinking into the form to lose the form is the most precious aspect of the yoga practice. That is when we open space for introspection and creativity. That’s how we re-energize after a long day of work.
In yoga the concept of “swaha” means “so be it”. Things are as they are, and not as they appear to be. By sinking beyond the preconceptions, conditionings and social stigmas, we can accept the flow of life and practice allowing. For me evening yoga and meditation hones the art of “allowing”.
Most of us have a little control freak within us. We’ve all experienced the desire to control. To turn on like light switch, often during the darkness of instability. We want to fashion life a certain way. We want people to behave the way we want them to. When these expectations aren’t met, when people and situations don’t turn out the way we anticipated, our reactive tendency is to grasp, cling, or push away, to feel in the reigns and take the issue in our own hands. It is this very clasping, particularly in our relationships – whether casual, intimate, family or friends that doesn’t allow us to see things as they are, but forces us to mold them “our way.” There is no such things as “your way” or my way” in yoga. There is the path of the dharma “the right way” and it always falls somewhere in the middle. The yogic wisdom reminds us that we are connected, we don’t exist without context – we are apart from what surrounds us.
Yoga is the experience of unity that transpires when we realize our inherent connectedness and the practices that facilitate this process of remembrance. It teaches us to curb our constant desires and resist the tendency to control things. When things actually don’t turn out as we wanted them to be, there’s a discrepancy between what we want and what actually is that creates suffering. Our control panel is just a learnt mechanism to react against this status quo.
When a person behaves or reacts in a way that we find off-putting, our internal alarm for self-preservation can turn on. We think we are reacting to their behavior, but in fact we are reacting to our internal alarm that rings “Things are not what we want the to be”. As a result we find ourselves frazzled, giving ultimatums, creating restrictions for the other person and eventually hurting ourselves, and breaking our integrity. Our reaction spurs anxiety and fear.
My night yoga practice has taught me the art of allowing. It whispers softly in my ear: Can I simply be at ease, and allow things the freedom and space to unfold? The Yogic way views “prakriti” as the principle of nature and it reminds us that everything in the physical world is composed of movement. Situations, people, feelings, and impressions of the day are evanescent; they are fleeting. So how can we learn to shape shift between moments of desire and letting go? How can we restore that natural flow of things and enjoy them as they are, as “swaha”…
If we get caught up in the waves of movement, we will be overcome by sea-sickness. Yet, if we can detach and take the seat of the witness, we can find stability and a place to simply observe and learn from, the beautiful dance that is transpiring right before our eyes.
I feel every day is a dance, a subtle act of grace and grit. My evening yoga is like a teacher who is sometimes silent and sometimes speaks in volumes, but always knows exactly what I need to learn. It brings me into a state of honesty and sparks the desire to inquire within.
Then, I feel happy waiting and observing the dance of the day, magically shaping up before me. I am happy to just wait and see, to allow and accept. It is the sweetest art of grace that enables me to shift inside and to make that shift in my relationships. At that point I am “at ease” and ready to slip with curiosity into the night.
Slip on your night gown and try this replenishing practice with me. So we can both sigh with relief …swaha…
Evening Yoga: At Ease (open level)
This evening yoga routine is a night-time soother. It comprises forward bends, spinal twists and lends way to reclining hip and shoulder openers to de-stress the body. It starts in a hug to stretch the whole spine from tailbone to neck, and then resolves into side and forward bends to create space between the vertebrae – while releasing tense hamstrings, hips and quads. A series of reclining poses sooth tight joints, ligaments and tendons. A restorative inversion elicits the parasympathetic nervous system response and lowers the heart rate – while quieting the mind. A gentle heart-opener relaxes tight shoulders and neck. A final introspective pose allows you to turn the senses in and prepare for a restful sleep.