Day 229: Why do *you* practice yoga?

Summer wildflowers near my home. Just something nice to look at while you read."Remember why you practice," Kaili, one of my favorite Hatha teachers, said today as we stretched our IT bands. "Remember your motivation."

Good one, I thought as I tried to get my thigh bicep parallel to the floor. And then I tried to come up with an answer for myself.  Which made me realize that my motivation changes almost every day.

Sometimes I do it because I'm feeling fit and I'm on a roll and I want to push myself.  And sometimes I do it because I need 75 minutes of quiet meditation.  Other times I do it because because I hope it will be the magic bullet that will cure all my physical (and mental!) issues.  And then there are the days that I do it so I don't have to do something else (work, bathe the kids, empty the compost bucket, submit medical insurance forms, clean the kitchen etc).

Earlier this week, one of my hot yoga teachers said that yoga is really about self-observation, and I couldn't agree more. If nothing else, practicing every day has given me the time and the opportunity to know my mind and my body in new and thorough ways.  For instance: my neck always cracks to one--and only one--side.  Sometimes several times a day.  And while I don't know why it does that, I am aware that it does, and surely that must be a good thing.  Also, my left psoas muscle is tighter than my right (which means I really have to focus on balancing them out when working on hip openers).  Oh, and my mind often harps on missed opportunities while I'm cycling through poses.  (Probably should have taken that job at Allure back in the day.)

The best part about spending so much time on the mat, though, is noticing the small shifts that have been occurring over the past months like the progress that I've made with some positions and the awareness I now have for what I can, can't and don't want to do. Because even though each of those things is small on its own, they're adding up to something big: My Yoga Practice.