Don’t have kids? Get on your mat.

I promise I’m not a yoga zealot. Or a zealot of any kind. I’ve always been an “everything in moderation” kinda gal from exercising, to letting my kids go pantsless, to consuming foods containing high fructose corn syrup (because it really is in SO MUCH STUFF and nearly impossible to avoid altogether). But when it comes to yoga, the more often you get on your mat the better.

I learned this in large part, believe it or not, from Instagram. That’s right – the social media site maligned by members of the yoga community for propagating a culture of pose perfection over the true value of yoga. I don’t plan to turn this post into a pro or con rant about yoga selfies (visit my Instagram page and you’ll see I have posted plenty of them). I see both sides to that argument and tend to approach the yoga selfie debate the way I do most things: to each his own. Live and let live. Follow your own path. And other 4-word cliches.

No, this post is about the benefit of getting on your mat every single day, even if it’s only for 10 minutes.

I have struggled to maintain a home practice for years, always citing the usual suspects (kids, pets, errands) as reasons why establishing one was impossible. Then about a year ago I decided to partake in my first ever Instagram yoga challenge. Snap a picture of myself in a pose and hashtag the hell out of it every day for one month? Piece of cake (oooh, cake…)!

Except that it wasn’t easy. Not by a long-shot. On several occasions I found myself dipping into my yoga selfie reserves on days I didn’t make it to my mat. “I’m pretty sure I have a shot of me in utthita hasta padangustashana from last fall” I’d recall while frantically scrolling through blurred shots of my boys spinning when they were supposed to be sitting and smiling. Apparently searching for one image out of my iPhone collection of 5,000+ was a better use of my time than, say, actually snapping a picture of myself in utthita hasta padangustashana. Of course it wasn’t. I realized that I was more interested in posting photos of perfect alignment (and lighting) as opposed to spending 15 minutes stretching so that my hamstrings and hips were open well enough to find the pose.

I stopped scrolling. Got on my mat, and took a less-than-perfect picture of myself. Then I hit post. And peace was restored throughout the world.

Surprisingly my heroic act of posting something to IG that contained excessive shadowing did not bring about major societal change. It did re-teach me a lesson that I had apparently forgotten: yoga is not about poses. It is about coming to your mat physically and mentally – even when it’s hard.

Even when you have a child climbing on top of your urdvha dhanuarasana.

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