Anyone who has spent any length of time mingling with high school faculty can tell you that every school has at least one: The stiff, socially-awkward-and-resistant-to-change teacher. He is usually a member of the math or science departments* who bears ink stains on every one of his shirt pockets, and sports the same wardrobe/eyeglass style since 1982. He is a little, shall we say, peculiar.
*No offense science and math teachers; I’ve met many a cool, hip member of your tribe.
About a decade ago, my journalism students and I were discussing said teacher at our school…. Let’s call him “Mr. Stan.” Everyone in the class had a Mr. Stan story, but Eddy Lindenstein, who bagged groceries weekend mornings at Albertson’s on 196th, piped up with this experience: “Without fail, every Saturday, at exactly 8:05, Mr. Stan comes in and buys the same three things: One banana, a quart of milk, and a Seattle Times.”
What bizarre behavior, we all agreed, as if Eddy’s experience was proof that this guy was Weird, with a Capital W….
…..Fast forward ten years. The time? 9:55. The place? The espresso counter at the PCC on Edmonds Way, when the barista commented, “Boy, I could set my watch to you. You come in every Sunday at 9:55 and buy three things: A spicy chai with almond milk, a hard boiled egg, and an apple.”
Could it be this person thinks I am Mr. Stan? In my yoga mind, it really shouldn’t matter what anyone thinks, but I start blabbering nonetheless (in run-on sentences of course) that “the reason I come in the same time is that I teach a yoga class on Sundays and I stop by on my way…. That a hard boiled egg and an apple is very easy on the stomach and you shouldn’t practice yoga on a empty or full stomach…. And blah blah blah.”
After my diatribe is over, she says to me: “Yeah, I’d really like to do yoga, but something always comes up that gets in the way.”
Ah, Sensei… overcoming obstacles is the story of our lives. Most of us who have a yoga practice have, at some time or another, let our practice slip away, or found reasons why it isn’t a priority.
Since I began my yoga journey in 1996, my love affair with the practice has certainly waxed and waned. I took an entire year off the year my daughter was born, when I was too exhausted to read a book, let alone get myself to a yoga class.
So, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve told myself over the years that kept my mat rolled up, collecting dust, in the closet.
1. My practice isn’t what it used to be.
After having a child (and the weight gain that came with it) I waited a LONG time to return to the mat. I didn’t see my post-baby practice as “valid” as the one I had previously; one with flips and handstands and all manner of arm balances.
What brought me back: Some insight into my ego, my self esteem, and the realization that I was totally attached to my old practice.
2. I don’t have enough money.
Good, quality yoga instruction in a nurturing space is not cheap, and when you’re on a budget, it can be challenging to part with what limited resources you have.
What brought me back: I realized the value in feeling strong and flexible, and I made myself worth it. Also, one day I was paying a chiropractor copay, and I realized for the same amount, yoga gave me what the chiropractor gave me, and much more.
3. I’m too busy
Most of us have very busy lives, and taking the time to unroll your mat can seem simply overwhelming.
What brought me back: After several weeks making other tasks a priority, I dragged myself to yoga class, and realized what I was missing. Ask yourself: Do you ever regret going to yoga?
4. I’m too tired
Let’s face it, at the end of a long work day, the couch looks pretty inviting.
What brought me back: Knowing yoga gave me more energy, made my sleep more restful and was far more rewarding than an evening in front of the television.
5. I’m injured/old/out of shape (or insert applicable reason here.)
Putting your physically limited body into an asana is hard. It sometimes hurts, it’s uncomfortable, and certainly draws our attention to what we “can’t do,” which can be the most painful part.
What brought me back: Knowing that there is a modification for every pose, and realizing how attached I was to a particular way of practicing. Both things help us see our own ego so that we can move beyond them.
The bottom line is that it is totally normal to create hurdles that get in the way of a yoga practice. It’s part of the process of the study of yoga, which ultimately is the study of yourself. Once we realize we are creating barriers for ourselves, we can come to grips with the fact that old patterns of thinking are the problem, not our life’s circumstances.
And, no matter how many times I’ve slipped away from yoga, I do know that I feel better, stronger, less stressed and kinder to others (and myself) when I make a regular practice a priority.