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June 6, 2014

The Yoga Love Affair. ~ Cheryl Parsons

yoga girl happy healthy freedom

We can probably pinpoint the reasons why we fell in love with yoga. What it has done for our bodies, our minds, our life—it goes without saying.

We understand why it’s dubbed an amazing practice and we’d never speak poorly of it…right?

Or would we…?

If your love affair with yoga has felt a little turbulent lately, then I’m here to let you know that I understand what you’re going through. I will confess that I don’t always love the practice.

Gasp! Have I just committed the equivalent of yogic blasphemy? Could there be more to this than meets the eye?

The truth is, we are only human.

There are times when we don’t want to get on our mat.

Times when we give up five minutes in.

We feel burnt out—practicing, teaching, learning—it takes a great deal of commitment, and maybe we find ourselves wondering where we are going with it all.

Ironically, it is at these very times—when our love affair with yoga hits a rocky patch—that we need the practice more than ever.

So, if you are finding yourself on a bumpy road right now, hang tight.

There is a common “hit-list” of culprits that make us love our yoga practice a little bit less

Scenario 1: Trying too hard

We roll out our mat and within three minutes we are trying to throw ourselves up into headstand, while lamenting at the fact we’ve still not mastered the darn pose after X years of practice.

We crumple in a sorry heap of inner judgement.

Solution: Remind ourselves that while the ever-coveted pose would probably make a fantastic yoga “selfie”, it won’t necessarily lead us to instant enlightenment.

Instead, take a breath, follow the steps that lead towards the peak and be happy with where we are today.

You never know, what feels like the impossible may become our signature party move in years to come.

Scenario 2: Not surrendering to what we need

Our toddler/baby/cat/dog (delete as needed) is sick. We didn’t sleep. It’s been a long day and no amount of under-eye concealer will help.

We haven’t exercised and we can’t skip our practice again, so we bust out a few rounds of speedy sun salutations in the hope of conjuring up some energy, but instead find ourselves feeling even more depleted.

Solution: We need to accept that there will be days when we don’t have the energy to do a big, heart pumping practice.

We must remember to listen to our bodies and what they are telling us. Understand when to challenge and when to just let go.

zen peace tranquility bliss calm

So let’s grab a bolster, close our eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out. Take a nap. Surrender to what feels right today.

Scenario 3: Setting the bar too high

A proper yoga session must include at least one hour of asana and a good helping of meditation. Right?

Who said that?

If we fall below our “blueprint” there are times when we feel like what we are doing in our practice just isn’t good enough.

If we don’t have time for an hour or more, we feel as though we are faltering along the path to ever getting anywhere with this yoga malarky.

Solution: Stop thinking about a yoga practice in pre-conceived time frames.

So we only have 10 minutes today? Instead of feeling that there is no point, let’s simply roll out our mats, close our eyes and bring our mind to our breath.

We need to change our view of what yoga should look like and resolve to do what works best for us.

We must remember that we are fluid creatures, meaning that there is no cut-and-paste daily practice.

And that’s the beauty of the practice.

Scenario 4: Comparing ourselves to (bendier) others

yoga poses

We start by feeling inspired by the yogi who has endless hours a day to practice. We watch them pressing into handstands and springing into backbends.

We swat up on their vegan, raw food, juicing, chia seed munching amazing diet, while guiltily consuming a full-fat latte with a cheeky muffin on the side.

We feel as though we may never achieve their level of physical yoga.

We also end up feeling inadequate, jealous and frankly, a little peeved off.

Solution: Be yourself.

We need to remember to take a look at where we are in your life right now and remind ourselves that we are doing an amazing job.

And we need to remember that the people behind the Instagram images and YouTube videos are human too.

They struggle just like us, and while they seem to have all the time in the world to devote to yoga, they too probably still feel jealous, lonely, anxious and frustrated from time to time.

Heck, they might even want to step into our shoes for a day.

We just never know! So let’s release our judgement of others, of ourselves, of our practice. 

And most importantly, let’s forgive ourselves when we find that we’ve slipped into one of these scenarios.

 

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Apprentice Editor: Emma Ruffin/Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photos: Vipin Methassery, Lyn Tally/FlickrIvy/Flickr

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Cheryl Parsons