Today I did Day 1 from Richard Hittleman's 28 Day Yoga Program. That is where I started, three decades ago.
I remember looking at the pages, moving through the unfamiliar poses. I remember being a little worried that there was something UnChristian about yoga, yet also intrigued. I remember feeling light and adventurous. How joyful to reconnect to that youth! I'm sure I started stiff, and then, was a little looser.
I know that routine by heart, because I stopped the 28 Day Program many times and restarted it. It's very simple -- 3 poses, once each, then the three poses three times each, then once each again, this time trying to flow gracefully between them. Easy to remember -- I remember Day 2, also.
My body still feels like mine. I've gained weight since then -- I don't feel it. I feel more tension in my shoulders, where then, it was in my back. Now, the lovely thing is how much more aware I am of my entire body. I feel little muscles all over my feet. I feel my ribs expanding. I settle right into a forward bend, and feel for every muscle that works to hold the position, and every one that I can let relax. The stiffness leaves me more quickly, and the relaxation reaches deeper.
I still stop and start my yoga. Only now, "stopping" is likely to mean that I slip three stretches in when I can, and "starting" means I sit cross-legged and breathe a little while before I begin a more extended session. I seldom let an entire day go without something; I also don't take up ambitious plans of arriving at advanced postures within 30 days -- both the extremes have gone.
And why is that? Because, after these years of stops and starts, now I feel my body. And it feels better, when I do some than when I do none, and I listen and accept it when it feels it has had enough.
I've learned to listen, and I've learned moderation. And those are radical gifts from thirty years of spotty practice. I have practiced yoga poorly, and it was seriously worth it.