My practice always surprises me. Recently, I was taking class and feeling very out of breath. I was having unusual difficulty joining breath with asana. I knew that my practice that day was telling me that something was off. Luckily, I have become more attuned to what my body is telling me when I’m on my mat. Instead of pushing, I slowed down and took more rests. That afternoon I began to sniffle. I took some zinc and some black elderberry syrup and rested when my body told me to rest and within three days the sniffles never progressed. I was able to stop the cold before it became debilitating.

I took a cross-fit class last year and, Ron Gordon, the instructor was saying that he takes his pulse every morning. If his pulse is off one way or the other he knows he needs to slow down. He’s avoided viruses by listening to his body’s signs and takes off a day instead of sticking to his training plan.

Being a new year, I have reflected upon last year a lot lately. Although I was incredibly active, my body was not strong last year. I caught every cold that I was exposed to. I added many classes to my roster and continued to ski, snowshoe and run as much as I could. If only I had listened more closely. That is my take home lesson from last year. Listen. Pay attention to the moment; slow down, stop pushing and listen. Our bodies are capable of amazing things. (My husband and I just watched a documentary about three men who ran across the Sahara—running 50 miles DAILY for  111 days…4,300 miles total!) It becomes easy to shut off the signals our bodies give out to slow down. I still drink coffee to push my body to stay awake when it wants to rest. I have gotten better at listening to what my body really needs and will more readily take child’s pose or a restorative pose instead of pushing through.

This new year, try to listen more closely. Close your eyes while practicing on your mat. Turn off the visual stimulation that might signal to your brain to take a pose to the next level. Listen to what your body wants to do TODAY versus what you knew it could do in the past. Treat each day as a special day to learn more about yourself.