Living yoga and taking your practice off the mat is like driving a manual transmission car—you have to feel everything as you go.
At least that has been my experience after driving stick shift for the last 15 years. My energy literally melds with the car and whether I’m driving down a windy decline or up a super steep hill, I literally have to shift gears or else I’m not going to get where I need to go.
The process of shifting is one that makes the modern day householder nervous. It’s why we love automated things like automatic cars to keep everything simple. You don’t have to feel the car and the road, you just drive, eat or do any other number of things that keeps you in the fast lane going 90 miles per hour even if you’re headed for a very untimely head-on crash.
Automation can make everything fast, easy, simple, and much less work and energy than you might feel you have time for. There are certainly moments when even I love automation, but what I’ve learned from looking into my own life and driving my manual-transmission car is that many of us (myself included) have gotten too caught up in the “Overdoing of a Fast-Paced Life”.
In yoga, it represents Pingala Nadi. You know… the very solar, masculine side of doing upon which the American work ethic is modeled.
Though I mean no disrespect to Pingala, it’s my intention to be real about why the Ida aspect might deserve some attention more often than not. Ida is the slower, calmer, deeper, lunar pace of life (maybe you’d call it Yin) where the concept of time seems to fade away. Ida nourishes the underlying springs which ultimately feed the greater rivers of energy. The only problem is when those subterranean springs run dry, right?
And that’s what I’m talking about… Ida, the undervalued and often ignored energetic twin is constantly taking the backseat to all the projects and plans of Pingala. Though your energetic check-ins on your mat offer insight in the moment, there’s no real map or instruction manual that specifically guides you on how to balance them in modern society.
The reason is simple—it’s harder to do because you’re so unaccustomed to it. Have you ever noticed the frequency of hearing people say that they don’t know how to relax? I assure as a yoga teacher that I hear it no less from those walking into a class. It’s probably one of the main reasons why faster-pace, high energy classes are generally more popular than those of the slow, yin-filled, restorative type. We all know we need to slow down, but when it comes to making the space to do so, many of us fail.
My own wake-up call came last year while studying with my teacher Shiva Rea who has deeply inspired me to examine and honestly address my own choices living the householder yogini life. I spent 10 days practicing more fully than I ever have even though I allowed space for chaturangas on my knees, child poses and simply meditating when the intensity of the practice was just too much. It didn’t make me any less of a practitioner. If anything, it felt within myself that it made me more and I left feeling a sense of clarity and personal priority I’d never experienced before.
Wanna give it a try?
Here’s five ways that you can make friends with your own Ida:
1) Meditate. Making space for this daily practice, even if you start at 2 minutes a day, will make a huge difference in your experience. It might even help you make some really cool leaps in your life.
2) Honor your rest. Get some sleep and relish in the downtimes. Take time away from lit screens on your computer, phone and, obviously, TV.
3) Take time off. When you go on vacation this summer, really let your normal life stay behind. Set aside time each month for a ‘do nothing’ day. Don’t worry – the world will not fall apart if you check-out of Facebook, Twitter and all other social media.
4) Turn your phone notifications off. My phone ringer is always on vibrate and message alerts are only lights, so I’m never bothered by any jarring noise. It makes life just a tad more quiet.
5) Go into the slower flow on your mat. Check out a local restorative or yin class and embrace the opportunity to practice in a way that nourishes that deeper Ida energy.