Awakening to the Practice Again. And Again.

Touched for the Very First Time

I dabbled in yoga for years before it truly got me. A packed class in a university gym turned me off; a great Iyengar studio was too far from my apartment to commit; shoulder stand freaked me out. Frankly, I kind of hated the whole thing, and yet I kept coming back.

Eventually I found myself attending a Yin Yoga class near my house once a week. It made my hips feel good, and maybe even my brain. I actually felt my body get excited for Wednesdays, rather than my mind sternly telling me to go.

A little later I was invited on an intense business trip that made me nervous. I knew the trip would have plenty of personal reward but would also demand patience and focus of me that I wasn’t sure I had. So I did an experiment. The week before the trip, I went to yoga three times. Not just Yin, but some Vinyasa too.

And wouldn’t you know it? This yoga thing worked! While on the trip, I felt as serene, non-reactive, and present as I ever had. I managed to carve out the time in my five days away to take a class in Halifax, and that kept the good vibes flowing through my limbs.

And then I stopped. Again!

So Why Do We Stop?

Having now practiced for seven years, I’ve frequently found myself in dead periods, from a week or two to a month in length. This seems to be a pattern among practitioners I’ve spoken to. We stop for a few days because life gets in the way, and before we know it, the excuses sail in. Suddenly our feet haven’t graced a yoga mat in weeks.

Why? Some core-deep self-loathing that prevents us from doing what we know is good for us? Sure, probably. Some fear of changing so much we’ll be unrecognizable to ourselves and others? Perhaps.

A naturopath recently told me that no path of healing is straightforward. There are always bends and dips in the road. What might these bends and dips have to teach us?

Pick Yourself Up and Try Again

This past holiday season was another of those dead times for me, and I’ve just recently gotten back in the swing. You know how it starts – a class here, a couple of poses at home there – I’m thinking, “Aw jeez, it doesn’t even feel that good, and maybe my knee is feeling weird, and my time would probably be better spent paying bills and cooking up a pot of beans for the week…”

Somehow, though, I’ve managed to string together a few days of practice in a row, my breath has made its way back to my belly, and my joints aren’t quite as annoyed. It really is like meeting up with a long-lost friend and finding ourselves midway through our second beer. “This yoga thing works!” I want to shout out my window at whoever might listen. That’s right. Again.