I recently wrote a piece about how to get back into the yoga groove after a hiatus—this naturally led me think about the reasons to take a break from yoga.
I admit that as a die-hard practitioner, this is a tough one for me to approach.
Personally, I don’t like breaks, whether it is from a practice or from a relationship.
However, much like how some couples decide on the latter and end up with a partnership that is even stronger than it was before, it is possible that the same can happen with yoga.
Below are the signs that tell me when I or my students need to take a break from regular yoga practice.
While this list is by no means complete, here are three goods one that come to mind:
1. We keep injuring ourselves repeatedly.
As an Ashtangi, I know a lot of people with chronic injuries. At times, it seems like every person at Mysore practice is suffering with some sort of injury. I am no exception.
While I don’t think an injury should necessarily take anyone completely out of the game, there is only so much a body can take. An injury that is getting worse or never gets better is a problem.
For example, I had a chronic shoulder injury that keep getting worse with regular practice. I stubbornly carried out and only paused when at one point, a fellow instructor shared that he feared it was possible that I was going to eventually end up at point where I could no longer able to practice at all.
At first I did not take his advice to heart but as it turns out, he was right. It got to a point that my shoulder never returned back to normal. To this day, it still nags me.
Looking back, my only regret is not following his advice sooner.
2. Feeling disenchanted with your yoga community.
Even though many will never confess out loud, this is actually quite common. (It certainly happened to me more than once.)
Like all communities, the yoga community includes some great people and some not-so-great people. At one point, I was disillusioned by the cliquish nature of some in my local yoga community as well as some of the pettiness and backstabbing that went on.
It got to a point were I would be in class and my mind was not on yoga, but on the people around me.
I continued to practice, but others in that situation may decide they need a break.
Sometimes, being away from it and missing it helps to focus on the practice again rather than the individuals.
The individuals who teach and practice yoga are not what yoga is about.
If certain individuals are unpleasant to be around and/or you no longer want to associate with them, one solution may be able to find a new yoga community. I found this pretty easy if you live in a place with a lot yoga studios and instructors. (i.e., think of New York, Los Angeles., or London.) However, even in smaller settings, it is often possible to find a new crowd just by joining a new studio. Sometimes, just a change of scenery is nice.
3. The thrill is gone and has been for a long time.
Again, it’s very common to fall in and out of love of yoga or any type of activity. However, in my case, if months have based and practice feels like a chore and I am only going because I feel that I “should” or “have to”, it’s a signal to take a hiatus and try something new.
For me “something new” may mean another activity or simply taking the time that used to occupy yoga and just relaxing and reflecting. For example, the last time that happened, I asked myself what first drew me to yoga in the first place-was it the physical aspects? The spiritual? Did yoga still fit in with my current life? There weren’t easy answers to many of these these questions, but they were well worth pondering and helped me decide that I wanted to return.
A break can sound scary to a dedicated or die-hard yoga practitioner but it need not be so—nor does it have to mean it is permanent.
Sometimes, it may be a wise choice and in my case, I returned to the yoga community with a new appreciation and stronger dedication than ever.
To paraphrase singer-songwriter and yoga devotee Sheryl Crowe, a change may do you good.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise