Life. Yoga. Joy.
Inspiring a life with smiles...™
A few weeks ago a friend posted a request on my Facebook page asking for advice on how to get back into her yoga practice. I saw her post late at night and asked for a bit of time to think about a real response.
In truth I was flattered and a bit surprised that she asked me specifically. Although I LOVE yoga - the practice, philosophy, lifestyle, comfy clothes - I am not even a yoga teacher...yet... and thought "What could I possibly say to inspire, encourage, and support her in doing something that I am sure will bring her joy?"
A word about the "yet" posted above. I applied to Kripalu's 200 hour Yoga teaching program on June 10th, and just heard back that I got in! I am excited to be a part of their upcoming October-November training program!
So in the hopes of providing some service to my friend, here's my top five ways of getting back into your yoga practice. (Kristy, this blog's for you!)
1. Find your source
When I first practiced yoga in my late teens, early twenties, I found it to be a great exercise. I particularly like a challenging Vinyasa Flow with plenty of playtime to highlight my flexibility. (Standing splits no problem! Dancer pose? How high do you want me to lift my leg?) Now I know that there has been a lot of flack on social media about the "exercise" version not being the "true point" of yoga, but hey, it drew me to what has become a lifelong practice. If I hadn't been attracted to it at that point, might I have found it later in life? Who knows?
Flash forward a few years, less practice time (which I am remedying now) and too many jobs where I sit all day, and my interest in yoga has completely changed (as has my body's abilities). Now my passion springs from a place of joy when I practice for a few minutes, the gratitude I feel for being able to explore my body's limits and capabilities, and the healthy lifestyle encouraged by mindfulness and love for my fellow human beings.
So ask yourself, what is the source of your desire to start up a yoga practice?
Fun fact: Regular practice of yoga actually slows your metabolism, not speeds it up as many yogis claim. The weight loss tends to come from the fact that a regular practice seems to lead to a more mindful lifestyle in your eating (healthy wholesome foods), social activities (increase in outings involving sports or physical activities), and mental health (improvements in how we view ourselves tends to result in us taking better care of our physical bodies)!
2. Pick your flavor
Forget (vegan) ice cream. Modern yoga comes in more flavors than a gourmet scoop shop! Out of a scandalous and sometimes sketchy past (no really...do your homework), sprang such wonderful traditions as:
3. Commit to your practice PUBLICLY
Starting something new can be really scary. As human beings we are often afraid of looking silly in front of our peers. So hold on to your hats my terrified peeps, because I am advising you to embrace your fear and TELL EVERYONE that you are going back (or starting) a yoga practice!
That's right. I'm advising you to commit to your practice, vocally, publicly, loudly and proudly. Tell your friends, neighbors, followers on each and every social media site you own, the guy standing next to you at the supermarket, your mom, dad, crazy Aunt Sue, your co-workers, spouse, significant other, teachers, and random strangers!
Yes, some may look at you like you are crazy for doing that hippie exercise (as my mother-in-law likes to call it) BUT you may be pleasantly surprised at how many encourage you, offer advice, share an interest in the practice, or confess that they want to try it too! Talking about yoga has led to the following positive interactions in my life:
Plus talking about yoga not only is fun, but it gives you a support group who can help you be accountable to your commitment!
4. Create SPACE
I get it. We are all extremely busy people. We get up, rush through our breakfast (if we even bother to eat one), to get to work. We rush through our morning, to get to our lunch break. We pray the afternoon goes quickly so we can rush home. On the way home, we rush through our errands so we can get to activities/dinner/more errands. So much rushing around to get to...nowhere.
As my peeps who are reading my blogs regularly know, I stopped working at my normal job on Fridays recently. And while not everyone has the luxury of doing so, and my change in schedule was thought about for a LONG time before doing it, I am inviting you to reflect on your daily routine and find some space for your yoga practice. For me, having one day a week which I could concentrate on my interests, and living a mindful, healthy life was an answer to what had been becoming an extremely stressful situation. However even before I took this leap, I began carving out SPACE in my day, my physical surroundings, and even my life, to be able to invite myself back into my practice.
Is there a way for you to invite your practice back into your life? Consider some of the following options:
The SigO and I currently live in a studio apartment. For my home practice, I lay my mat out on the floor in a corner of the room near our windows. (I like a lot of natural light.) I put on a playlist from my iTunes and just go for it. Sometimes the external distractions can be LOUD - laundry running, dishwasher churning, the SigO cooking, people walking and talking in the courtyard outside...But generally once I have begun, the world falls away, and it is just me and my mat, one breath at a time.
5. Have fun
At a not-so-fun female checkup recently, I mentioned to the nurse practitioner that I practice yoga regularly when she asked about my normal activities. She gave a half-smile, looked at me, shrugged her shoulders and said "Gosh, I really SHOULD do yoga."
Uuuuhhhhgggg. My heart sank a little hearing her say THAT phrase, one that I have heard all too often. There is no SHOULD in yoga. A practice is not a chore or errand that needs to be completed before going on to the next item on your checklist. If you look at it as such, you are dooming yourself to NEVER practicing!
When I practice yoga, I feel happy, light, and strong. For a few moments, or longer, there is just the breath. My mind quiets from its incessant chatter, and I feel as though I am dancing in space. For me, the practice of yoga is filled with JOY and FUN! So if the fun has gone out of your practice, try the following:
Hopefully these tips will help you invite yoga back into your life! Have suggestions that have worked for you? Please feel free to share! I am always listening...with smiles...
Samantha Eve, a