I made a yoga date, as we do. When yoga instructors get together to connect, it usually takes place around a mat. All the catching up happens post class over a cup of chai or a glass of wine. So I made a yoga date with Olivia Kvitne. I’d get my practice in, check out a LA yoga institution, Golden Bridge Yoga (why have I never been here?), and connect with lovely Olivia, a fellow LA YOGA Magazine staffer.
I showed up for class, present and ready, but not really expecting anything. But Olivia is good. Really good. And at the first skull-shining breath, I was off.
You never really know what your practice is going to bring up until it’s smeared all over the mat below you: resentment, frustration, a broken heart…Or maybe it’s all beautiful, radiant joy. Regardless, it oftentimes takes you completely by surprise.
So, right smack in the middle of my practice I found myself sitting face to face with my work week. I’ve just begun a new job, which takes up most of my time. I love it but the best part is that I don’t have to give up teaching yoga. I cut my classes back a bit to accommodate my new schedule, thinking four per week would be manageable. But this transition hasn’t been as smooth as I would have hoped.
The first clue that I’m over-extended: jealousy. I find myself walking through a sea of students flowing through their vinyasas feeling jealous. And it’s not just a passing thought, it’s an active longing for each posture, each glorious stretch. I catch small details –a student’s finger pads pressing into the mat, a trickle of sweat trailing down a student’s bare back, the oceanic sound of breath all around me–and I feel jealous. I want to experience all of those things too. I demonstrate simple postures like, downward facing dog, and linger in silence, just a bit too long. I don’t want to move; it’s too delicious.
It makes me want to stop teaching. Usually, it’s a fleeting thought. But it’s still there.
The thing is, I haven’t neglected my practice. I still get in about three days a week. But, what became obvious in Olivia’s class was that it’s not enough.
The crazier your schedule gets, the more yoga you need. Trying to balance a work week with meetings, appointments, errands, favors, fun, and friends means more yoga.
When the first thing you want to cut out of your schedule is yoga, something is wrong. Yoga is the last thing to get cut, says Oliva. And I agree.
That class changed my whole trajectory. I realized that before I consider letting go of any classes, I need to make sure that my choice is coming from a place of abundance, not a place of lack.
Olivia reminded me of an analogy Julia Cameron uses in her book, The Artist’s Way. She says we have an inner well that we need to refill regularly:
This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond…If we don’t give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked… Overtapping the well, like overfishing the pond, leaves us with diminished resources.
My well is nearly dry and needs to be replenished. So, on the mat in mid flow, I set an intention to fill myself with my practice. After 30 or maybe even 40 days of yoga in a row, if I still feel the need to let go of a class or two or all of them, at least I’ll know that it is an informed choice not a choice made from exhaustion.
It’s an experiment. And what better place to record my musings and lessons learned than here on this blog? As I write this, I realize it’s a crazy experiment. I may be setting myself up for failure, disappointment, frustration, deeper exhaustion. Or I am be on to something really good. Either way, I’m down for the adventure.
If you’ve ever challenged yourself to practice consistently for an extended period of time, I’d love to hear about it. Please share your experience below.