At the start of our yoga journey, we often enthusiastically dive into the practice after we begin to see our mental outlook, our self-acceptance, and our bodies start to harmonize. We achieve breakthrough upon breakthrough, and our mat becomes our new and well-loved home. We attend more classes, workshops, and trainings.
And then after many months, or years, our practice plateaus.
Our mats stay rolled up, tucked away in the corner and we lose track of the last time we practiced joyfully. The motivation to move our bodies and to breathe deeply that we found enjoyable before, starts to fizzle out. We are left wondering why our love of yoga has thawed. Without a regular yoga practice, some things in our lives begin to unravel, and we can start to fall out of sync with our true selves.
If this is how you are feeling, you are not alone. Here is what we can do to reignite our connection to our practice.
Working out what really is the broader issue will help you discover what may need to change in your life.
Is it an issue of time? Or space?
Or is it how you perceive yourself to be? Consider the other aspects of your life, i.e., your job, your relationships, your family, and your friends.
Creating a daily time slot for yoga is hard. Sometimes life will be unforgiving, and it will throw challenges your way whether you want them or not. If you feel that you should be at a more advanced stage in your practice or if you are having an internal battle with yourself, that will also hamper your chances.
By having an honest conversation with ourselves, we can go to the root cause. Then we can begin to address what needs some extra love, work, and acceptance. Once you’ve discovered the issue and you’re ready to move forward and back onto the mat, remember why you were practicing before as well as why you started yoga in the first place. Gently go over what has changed for you in your practice whether that is physically, spiritually or emotionally, and let that be a reminder to you how much has changed in your life.
Teachers, it can happen to you too. And when it does, check to see if you are burning yourself out by teaching too much and neglecting your practice. It is impossible to teach, guide, and to motivate from an empty and tired cup. Revisit the reasons why you decided to become a teacher and what prompted you to do a Yoga Teacher Training. Tap back into your story and how your yoga journey has evolved. It’s going to be very hard to conjure up the same excitement and enthusiasm that you felt on your teacher training when you are back at home but by saving your energy to teach a few classes well, is better than accepting every single class and losing your drive.
Do you not want to get on to your mat? Or, are you listening to what your body is trying to tell you? Sometimes our regular practice needs adapting and changing to accommodate changes within us. If you are struggling with an injury or with an issue in regards to your mental health, then it is even more of a reason to modify your method and approach when it comes to yoga. If we are punishing and pushing ourselves too far with our time on the mat, we will risk disconnecting from our bodies and our minds.
So, slowing down our practice and focusing on our breath may be just what we need. When we move carefully, we can feel what we are doing inside and out. We can intuitively flow to our natural rhythm and use yoga as a way to re-center and to reevaluate. Just as the tempo of our lives changes so does the pace and vigor of our practice.
Life gives us a whole chunk of things to handle all at once without an instruction manual on to how to solve it all. As with our daily lives, our daily yoga practice will ebb and flow taking along inspiration, motivation, lethargy, and resentment. We cannot control what happens in our lives, but we can choose how we react. Continuing with our practice, no matter how out of love we fall with yoga – it teaches us and prepares us for the unpredictable wave of life.
There is no need to rush to ‘achieve’ a pose or to do as many poses as possible as your practice is exactly that, your practice. Not every day will we accomplish a more advanced or intermediate posture or will get off our mats feeling indestructible. But we should consider as Ashtanga Yoga Teacher David Swenson acknowledges: “What seeds are we planting when we practice? Do we give out positive or negative energy?”.
Getting back to our practice when we’ve spent some time away can feel like a big challenge, but we need to be gentle with ourselves first. It is a phase that many yoga practitioners and students go through over the years. But we need to surrender to it, accept how we’ve felt, and view the experience as a learning curve. The discipline of yoga really starts to come into play when we don’t want to practice, or we are fighting against getting on our mats. As human beings, we’d love for everything to run smoothly and without problems; but continuing to maintain a regular practice when you aren’t feeling like it, is yoga at work.
So, before you throw in your mat, set out your clothes the night before, get a good night’s rest, and listen to the quiet internal voice within. Even if all you do in your practice is resting in child’s pose for a full hour, you’ve made the step back, and that’s all that yoga asks for.
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