What made you unroll your mat that first time?
Many of us came to yoga for the physical benefits of the practice. Maybe we were looking to build strength or improve flexibility. Perhaps a friend invited you to a yoga class at your favorite brewery. Possibly you were looking for a different kind of workout, and yoga seemed interesting. Whatever your first date with yoga looked like, by the time you get to your 500th date, things will probably look different.
How it began, how it’s going
When I first started practicing yoga, I went to 90 minute hot yoga classes that included numerous chaturangas, plenty of time upside down in inversions, and complicated sequences. I was looking for the workout, the challenge, the feeling of being wrung out at the end of class.
Seventeen years later, my yoga practice looks very different. It often doesn’t take place on a yoga mat (I might take a few deep breaths at a stop light). When I unroll my mat, the temperature of the room is on the cooler side (I’m at that age where I can generate enough heat on my own!), and my practice is about 30 minutes in length. Although I will do the occasional headstand and crow pose, I’m more interested in releasing tension with MFR techniques and being present in the moment.
If you plan on practicing yoga until you take your last breath, your relationship with yoga will change, and it will continue to do so as you age. What was important to you in your early yoga days (being able to do a certain pose or getting a good workout), may not matter to you ten years from now.
Just like your relationships with your partner, children, and/or parents have evolved, so too will your relationship with yoga. The challenge is to let the shifts happen, and the reward is to learn what you can from each part of the journey.
Playing the long game
Like most long-term relationships, your yoga practice needs nourishment and attention in order to be sustainable. If your relationship with yoga has gotten stale, you might need to add a little spice to the practice. Here are a few suggestions to keep your practice fresh:
- Try a different style of yoga ~ if vinyasa is your go-to, change it up with a restorative or yin class. If you usually take it slow and meditative, try adding some yoga conditioning to your practice.
- Go to a new teacher ~ every yoga teacher brings a different style to the practice. Perhaps she will offer a cue to a familiar pose that lets you bring new awareness to the shape. Maybe you’ll discover a different way to approach a challenging posture.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes and do a few of your favorite yoga poses. Any yoga is better than no yoga.
- Find daily inspiration. These are four of my favorite books for a quick yoga boost:
+ Yoga Sparks by Carol Krucoff https://healingmoves.com/
+ Yoga 365 by Susanna Harwood Rubin https://susannaharwoodrubin.com/yoga-365-book/
+ Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie https://melodybeattie.com/books/journey-to-the-heart/
+ Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates https://rolfgates.com/meditations/
- Be kind to yourself if it’s been a while since you unrolled your mat. Thankfully, yoga mats don’t hold grudges. It will be there for you when you’re ready to return to your practice.
What will you learn?
Allowing your yoga practice to evolve provides an opportunity to let go of expectations while employing a curious mindset. Who knows what you will discover on the next part of your journey!
Let’s practice together!
Wherever you happen to be in your yoga journey, it can be helpful to practice with a community! Join the Peace Yoga at Home community for a class.
Check out the class schedule here https://peaceyoga.heymarvelous.com/calendar
Thank you, my relationship with my mat has faltered. I am still working full time and cannot make the classes on the schedule. I am in transit when these are available and when I get home I just say the heck with it. I committed to yoga for life because of its benefits I just have to find my way back.
I understand that, Gail! You WILL find your way back to the mat, but in the meantime, try showing yourself some grace. Maybe your practice, right now, consists of a few slow breaths before you start your commute home in the evening. The nice thing about the on-demand library is that you can practice whenever it works for you! How about turning on a class for a few minutes on the weekend? Just 5 minutes of yoga is better than no yoga!
PS ~ What time works for you? I’m always looking to meet my students’ needs!