Getting to the Mat
Written November 27, 2013 by Yoga Mountain
Maintaining a regular yoga practice may be one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you do in your life. If you are like most people, obstacles such as doubt, stress, illness, injury, and competing priorities eventually rear their not so pretty head while you are diligently tying to make time to practice. Here are some ways to work with a few common obstacles and get back on your mat in light speed.
Resist the beat-your-self-up path. It NEVER works! It is a recipe for a deflated sense of self, and painful self-inflicted bruises on your heart. If you berate yourself for missing class undoubtably you will feel worse, and like salt in the wound, you are less likely to get on your mat because you feel too bad about yourself.
To do yoga you have to feel worthy of receiving such a gift in your life. Open to the fact that the light within you is worth flighting for because your health, well-being and sanity rely on getting to your mat for practice. If you can shift a negative motivation to practice like shaming and shoulding yourself, into a positive motivation for practice like self-love, acceptance and a desire to be the most awesome person you can be then you are more likely to make it to the mat.
Notice when your practice is slipping as early as possible. The longer you stay away, the harder it is to come back. When you notice the excuses coming on strong– sit down, breathe and notice what is coming up. The voice inside your head may sound like this; “yeah butt, I don’t even have 5 minutes to sit down!” Paradoxically, when it feels like there is no time to practice yoga, often that is when we need it the most. The stress spaceship has landed and it is time to take stock. If your to-do list seems a mile long, emails are getting buried, and the laundry basket is overflowing you may feel more irritable and anxious. These are warning signs that some “me” time is in order. Reorganize and re-prioritize, you may end up disappointing a few people, but you will be more sane and able to deal with life after a little mat time. Plus, yoga builds a foundation of compassion and acceptance so that you can observe and understand why the obstacles to self-care are arising in the first place. With awareness you can then take the appropriate steps to remedy it.
Set goals that are achievable. If you usually make it to one yoga class a week and then make a lofty promise to yourself to practice five days a week the jump in frequency is way too big and will likely not stick. Instead set a goal that works for your life. Pledge to make it to two classes a week for a month, and if that sticks then add another class. You can also set yourself up for success by doing the following; find all the classes that work in your schedule and circle them, put a few on your calendar, set a beautiful windchime ringtone reminder on your iPhone, stick post-it notes on the dashboard of your car, put a class schedule on your fridge, and tell your friends and family about your goal so they can support you. I used to write down in my journal how wonderful I felt after class then read it to inspire me to practice. Get creative, your practice is worth it!
I often say, whatever motivates you to practice– use it! I had a young woman in class years ago, and she confessed that the only reason she came to my class was because she wanted a nice butt and strong abs. I said, that sounds good! At least she was being honest, she knew what she wanted and she went for it. About 5 years later I saw her in my class again, this time she was pregnant. With a big smile and a gleam in her eyes she says, “I’m letting the butt and belly go, and now all I want is a happy and healthy baby, so here I am!” It was great to see her back on the mat.
“Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga. Constant practice alone is the secret to success” Hatha Yoga Pradipika
See you on the bamboo,