In the past year I have effectively ditched my yoga practice. I know what you’re thinking. How on Earth did you do that? I tell you, it wasn’t easy. It was a slow progression. It took a lot of excuses. A LOT. And then one day, I couldn’t even remember when I last practiced yoga.
Sure, there were a few times when I fell off the wagon and practiced yoga. Propelled by guilt, stress, or a visit from my sister-in-law, the superstar yogi, I found myself on the mat a handful of times in the past year. And let me tell you, the mat can be an enchanting place. You roll out your mat and suddenly your hopes and dreams seem only a vinyasa away.
Don’t be fooled. The most productive among us know that in order to get things done, we should stay as far away from the yoga mat as possible. Truly.
So, here it is, my fool-proof guide for ditching your yoga practice.
Get pregnant. Or acquire some other medical condition that requires you to slow down for the sake of…well, who even knows why? Doesn’t matter. What matters is that you suddenly believe you are a delicate flower that can only be bothered to practice on the “good days.” And if you get the morning sickness (or in my case, the morning/noon/night sickness) you’re in luck because those good days don’t come along all that often.
Have a baby. Or get a puppy. They’re pretty much the same thing. They disrupt your sleep by crying at all hours of the night, so you’re mostly too tired to practice. Whenever you DO get down on the mat, they think you’re there to play with them. They crawl all over you and camp out under your downward dog. When you try to ignore them, they wander off in search of sharp corners and choking hazards. All of which, cuts your practice down to about 7 minutes. Score!
Convince yourself that sitting in baddha konasana while things happen around you is good enough. Pretty soon you’ll believe that standing completely still at the post office is yoga too. Vinyasa? What’s a vinyasa?
Be a control freak about everything. You can’t possibly make it to a yoga class because no one, I mean NO ONE knows how to put the baby to sleep, how to lock up the shop, how to pick the perfect peach, or how to make it through a whole season of Orange is the New Black in one sitting. Whatever it is, no one knows how to do it like you. NO ONE, I tell you!
Make a to-do list a mile long. Prioritize said list. Make yoga your first priority. If you can only do one thing, it’s going to be yoga. Now do everything on that list EXCEPT yoga. How can you feel guilty about neglecting your practice when you got so much done in one day?
Try another form of exercise that takes half the time. A thirty minute run a few times a week. A 55 minute cycle class. I mean, who even has time for a 75 minute yoga class? Don’t even get me started on those 90 minute classes. Honestly, all you really need to do is a few squats and crunches while you catch up on the latest Netflix documentaries. Poof enlightenment!
Last, but not least,
Promise yourself that you’ll practice yoga tomorrow. You will. You TOTALLY will. Except that you won’t. You TOTALLY won’t.
See? There’s really nothing to ditching your practice. It’s deceptively easy.
Then life gets hard.
Shit. Who are we trying to kid? Life is always hard. Sure, there are plenty of magic pudding moments that make each day feel like pure bliss in a cocktail glass. Clink! But everyday we come up against stuff that has the potential to drag us way down. It could be a noxious coworker, a meddlesome sister, or dark crap from the past we still have to work through. Every single day holds the opportunity to laugh and the opportunity to cry. How do we cope? I’ll tell you – yoga.
If you haven’t gleaned yet, I was kidding about ditching your yoga practice. DON’T DO IT!
I mean, it’s pretty easy to ditch your yoga practice. But, that’s because it’s easier to do nothing. I know because I did it. It felt too hard to fit my practice into scattered days of baby, errands, family, work, husband, and friends. I kept putting my practice off until I pretty much ditched it.
Then one day I unrolled my mat and assumed the sweetest asana I know. My body was tight and my joints were unaccustomed to the pressure. But, oh wow, it was good. It was hard and it was good.
It takes effort to work through your crap, to show up, to stretch yourself (literally and metaphorically) beyond your limits. When we insist that we are too tired, too inconvenienced, or have too little time, when we insist on maintaining utter control of everything off the mat, we miss the opportunity to transform.
Every time we come to the mat to practice, something shifts. It can be the kind of shift that changes your life instantly or it can be subtle. But it’s always there. And it’s almost always for the best.
You can ditch your yoga practice. But I really don’t recommend it. It’s called a yoga practice for a reason. Sure, you’re practicing the asanas (or postures). Over time you improve and you feel good. But the thing we’re really practicing is life. On the mat we lose our balance, we fall, we sense when we can go deeper and when we should pull back. All this prepares us for life, the real deal; it transforms us and makes us stronger so we can step off the mat and with confidence say to ourselves, let’s do this.
*Photography in this post by Keleigh Layton
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