by CASSIE MCINTYRE
I’ve been practicing yoga for over six years now but that doesn’t mean I wake up every day with the enthusiasm to get on my mat and practice. It’s hard to believe but not every yogi is waking up and walking around with green juice in one hand and a magical outlook on life.
As I think about yoga and the practice I realize how different it is for me now than when I first started. I like to think of yoga as a long-term relationship; because that’s what it is, a relationship.
In the beginning I couldn’t get enough of the “yogi lifestyle.” I’d get up, go to class, sip my green juice, meditate, contemplate getting into essential oils, because that’s what “yogis” did, share contemplative quotes on social media, and wear the most on trend yoga apparel I could buy. During that time, I couldn’t get enough of it (yoga). I would try to recruit every person I knew into coming to class with me because yoga was the best thing ever and everyone needed to try it, listen to what I had to say about it, and breathe it.
In reality, I was just following a trend in the beginning before getting to know my practice and what I wanted out of it. I feel like this is the same scenario for anything new we try. We’re so over excited about something new that we don’t really delve into the “why” behind what we are doing.
Since that initial period when I fell in love with the practice, I’ve gone through cycles of doubt, disillusionment, boredom, laziness, and general neglect. I have also experienced peacefulness, clarity, balance, wisdom, and love. Through all of that I still somehow managed to get on my mat five days a week for the past six years.
Not every practice, I’ve gone through has been monumental. Most days, it’s been humbling, sometimes it’s sloppy, sometimes I modified everything because I was too lazy to do the full posture but overall, I’ve still been committed to getting up and getting on my mat.
The most important thing I’ve learned by not giving up on my practice is acceptance. If I needed to modify something because of an injury, I accept it. If I need to take it easy because I’m tired but still want to do it, I accept it. If I feel flexible that day and have the access to deepen certain postures, I explore it.
The thing that’s the same and unwavering about my practice is the fact that I listen to my body with the attitude of patience, acceptance, and kindness.
The one thing I can tell you if you feel like your practice is getting the better of you is to accept it.
The most humbling thing you can do for yourself is listen to what your body is telling you. No, you don’t need to be as flexible as Nancy Nobody Cares. Your practice is your practice and it should always just be the two of you. You and your mat. You and your time. You and your relationship with yoga not someone else’s practice. So how do we keep up our motivation to practice?
What keeps me motivated is the very same seed that drew me to yoga in the first place. No, it isn’t the feeling you get by grabbing that Green Goddess drink from Whole Foods and then posting a picture of it on Instagram later. It’s the search for inner peace. The search for balance in your mind and body.
No matter how sloppy or lazily I practice I always feel better after a few minutes on my mat. Maybe it’s the same for you and maybe it isn’t. I know when I move through my practice and take the time for myself I feel instantly better afterwards, especially if I was stressed out about work or school or whatever was dragging me down that day. Taking the time on my mat helps me work through any negative thoughts or emotions and helps me re-balance my mind. Each day I try to recommit myself to the inner work of the spiritual path of the yoga practice because at the end of the day it’s not about who had the better handstand. It’s about how you yourself feels.
A little yoga is better than no yoga. You don’t need to practice for hours upon hours every day. You only need as little as five minutes to make a tangible shift in your body and mind.
So many of us skip out on their practice because they “don’t have time” to do a full practice. It’s better to get on your mat for five minutes than not at all. Accept the days when you only have a limited amount of time to practice. Even those few minutes spent on your mat can really make a difference and it doesn’t need to be perfect every time.
Take the time for yourself because at the end of the day it’s just you. You’re responsible for you so make the days count. Get on your mat and practice.
Cassie McIntyre is a NASM certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, and nutritional coach at The Edge Fitness in Bristol.