Why do we avoid Yoga Practice?

Via Waylon Lewis
on Aug 16, 2009
get elephant's newsletter

avoid procrastinate practice lonely yoga mat

I’ve fallen off the Yoga wagon. How do I get back on?

Lately, my yoga mat has been lonely, rolled up, dusty—and yet not forgotten, I think about how I’m not practicing every day. One of my new favorite blogs, Shanti Love Yoga, knows why I’m resisting, procrastinating, unable to get back:

Practice Practice Practice!

sometimes i don’t feel like it. the very idea of getting on my mat is just … AHHHH!

why is that? i love practicing yoga! and once i’m on my mat, i never want to leave. i think that as much as it’s good for me (and it’s very good for me), it’s such a mindful practice that i’m forced to address problems or issues that i’m not always in mood to deal with in that moment – that tight spot in my shoulder, why is that there? my mind, why is it racing instead of being here now? my breath, where did it go?

but as many times as i’ve felt less-than-thrilled to hit the mat, the number of times i’ve left feeling disgruntled with my practice is few. yes, sometimes it feels like a chore instead of a beautiful, moving meditation. but that’s ok. i made the effort, and part of being mindful is being aware of those feelings. i keep thinking of that quote from the bhagavad gita, “…even a little of this practice…”.

“even a little” is exactly right. i used to feel like if i didn’t get in an hour and a half long class, then i didn’t really do yoga that day – like my 30 minutes at home didn’t really count. but most of us can’t make it to the studio every day, and part of this process is achieving balance and harmony in your life. so whether you have two spare hours to go to a class or five minutes at home, you’re doing it. practice, practice, practice!


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


17 Responses to “Why do we avoid Yoga Practice?”

  1. iamronen says:

    Maybe the days when I can't get on the yoga-mat are an opportunity to visit a wider perspective of Yoga? Remembering that it as much (if not more) off-the-mat as it is on-the-mat?

    How can I tell if that is not just an excuse my mind is cooking up to feel good about itself? I can't. But if I take a few minutes, and maybe a few breaths to ponder that, then that is today's practice. Sometimes I will walk into my practice space and just look at the mat, sometimes I will lie down for a few minutes of savasana – just to make a short visit and see what the nature of my mind is today.

    Recently I've also introduced a new tool that opens up new practice options a Shakuhachi (a meditative Japanese flute): http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1592

  2. ndsmith says:

    Thanks for this. That's a great reminder. Sometimes I do a simple asana, or pause for meditation: I could probably get more out of these moments if I just allowed myself to rest in them more fully. I need to remember that it's just a moment to center myself and become aware of where I am in the world, in my body…

    Also, thanks for the link (to the commenter below), seeing the variety of styles and shapes that a practice can take is quite encouraging.

  3. I planned on going to yoga for first time in…two months? Today…and missed it. Why? Ironically, on phone with Yoga Journal about their upcoming conference, and advertising (which keeps elephant alive).

  4. Emma H says:

    thank you waylon! i am/was in the exact same resistant, procrastinating state. after reading that article i literally got up, rolled out my mat and practiced. for the first time in months! genius. I think you're onto something with the mood stemming from an unwillingness to confront. i sort of took it as a challenge and just jumped onto the mat to prove that I could. and of course once i was "there" everything released and flowed and it didn't matter. wonderful.

  5. AlizaEss says:

    I find that stretching just a little bit in the morning or during breaks at work helps keep my juices flowing. It kind of keeps yoga on the back-burner of your mind, without making you feel guilty for not using your body!

  6. Lindsay Jean says:

    Thanks for all of the feedback! Ronen makes a great point when he writes that yoga is a practice on and off the mat, and I would have likely specified asana practice if I had known when I wrote this post for my personal yoga blog nearly a year ago that it was going to make it to the much more widely read elephant journal! Whatever your yoga is, you have to do your practice. So what are you waiting for? Get back on the mat Waylon!

    Also, check out this great new article by Max Strom on the topic of the hatha yoga practice as it relates to the other components of yoga: http://www.sevenpillarshouse.org/article/hatha_yo

  7. […] friend brought this to my attention a little while back (since I’ve fallen off the yoga wagon, I had to hear this Boulder Yoga Community news second-hand). Husband and wife Richard Freeman and […]

  8. Tracy says:

    because I'm depressed and I can't motivate myself to do anything right now, unfortunately.

  9. Rebecca says:

    Every year, just after thanksgiving, I say to myself "self, this year, you are not going to let the stress of this time of year effect your practice. This year, you are going to keep up with your practice right through the holidaze". Inevitably, right after thanksgiving, my practice begins to fade. I convince myself I'm practicing off of the mat, so my practice hasn't totally fallen away. "I'm being nice, and cheerful, and pleasant to everyone when there seems to be so much grumpiness- I'm still practicing!" I say to myself. But not on the mat. Then, every year, after January 1, I say "self, this year you will begin your practice IMMEDIATELY after the start of the new year!" For some reason, it just. does. not. happen. Not right away. In fact, this year, I signed up for a class, and like you, I was on the phone with a-certain-computer-company-who-shall-not-be-named in order to figure out why my web site had disappeared from my computer and missed the class!

    This year, it took a totally out of the box meditation class to get me back to a mat. Which brought me back to that particular studio. The first class there, I knew I was in the right place when the entire back row (which I was in) started erupting into giggles. I was having fun, I was on my mat, I was back.

    At the end of this year, I'm going to say "self, this year, you will not practice on your mat from after thanksgiving to the first week of January". Then me, myself and my mat will get together and have a good laugh.


  10. […] the positive end, vanity (as well as a tight back) is what keeps me exercising—climbing, or going to yoga, and bicycling to and fro meetings and […]

  11. […] something shining through…so instead of trying to back out, move deeper and trust that as you work through, the light on the other side will shine brighter and brighter. Light, or at least, Steve […]

  12. […] 1. Don’t miss yoga class, as I did, this week. Over the next three or four days (I work a lot on the computer), my shoulders tightened and my neck tightened until, finally, yesterday, my head started hurting. Badly. Didn’t sleep barely at all last night, I was in such rough shape. This happens to me three or four times a year—always and only when I’ve missed yoga for a week or more. […]

  13. Michelle K says:

    Tracy, the fact that you are reading articles on EJ says that you are still connected to your practice in some way…. hang in there sister! Sending love, Michelle.

  14. Michelle K says:

    It can be a challenge all right. It's just nice to know it happens to others too! I've been procrastinating all day, but now no more excuses – i'm rolling my mat out right now – namaste!

  15. […] Elephant Journal, and an entry by the super fantastic Oz of #elej, Waylon Lewis. He asked, “Why do we avoid Yoga Practice?” It reminded me of a little cycle I tend to get myself […]

  16. I look back at when my definition of a good practice routine was most days and for no less than an hour. I also look back at the times when I really should have been doing something else with my time or with the people in my life instead. After becoming a parent, my nazi-type mentality completely shifted (although to be fair, it had been shifting for awhile…slowly), and I still consider regular, committed actual physical practice to be essential to yoga practitioners, but how I define it is a lot more fluid.