Some days it seems there is an urge to stop. Stop everything. Stop practice, stop going out, just stop. It is on days like this when yoga practice can be the most difficult to start, and the most valuable or enriching to actually perform. Those thoughts about not having time, not feeling like it, not being sure what to do are great excuses for the mind to use to provide a way out. The next thing you know, it is 9 pm and you know yoga isn’t happening today. So right now, this is the moment, when actually practicing can be the most powerful, the most life-bringing. To stop everything else and get the mat on the floor is the training. It is the practice.
I find that once the mat is on the floor, and once I have begun my practice, I can stick with it.
Just like all habits that bring great benefit, there is a time when it takes muscle and working through frustration or even boredom to get the habit going. Think back to the habits you have now that you take for granted. I am thinking of brushing teeth (have you ever tried to get a child to do it?), writing, reading, counting, using scissors. All of these things were once difficult and could even cause stress in your mind if you had to do them. Children have to think about these things to be able to do them. However, if you were lucky, those around you knew it was important. You got some encouragement that it was worth your effort to keep trying, even if you didn’t feel like it. Now, when you need to cut the tags off your clothes, maybe you still skip the step of getting the scissors, but I doubt it causes stress to think about it. I can imagine there are times you use scissors without much thought. Surely, now, you just read without even thinking about it being reading. You count because it is convenient and beneficial, not because you are being tested. Yoga is beneficial to your heart (studies now show), your mind (yes, scientifically proven), and to your spirit (your connection to others and the greater world around you). You can’t really do better, in my opinion.
If you are struggling to stick with your practice, remember this. You will not always struggle. See if you can let go of the feeling of struggle and just let the body do it anyway. Eventually, you will not have to think of going to practice, once you have crossed a certain point. So what can you do to get there?
Go to a yoga class. Just stay. Nothing else is as helpful. Just stay.
Put your yoga mat on the floor and start.
1. Take a class or two in person. I do recommend taking at least a few yoga classes in person somewhere. If you have to travel far to do this, see if you can make the day a small spa for yourself. Take a few gentle classes at different places. I used to live so deep in the mountains that I had to drive a few hours to get to a city with yoga classes. You can always plan to stay one night at a hotel and take two classes a day for two days in a situation like that. It is relatively inexpensive and feels more like a personal spa than like you got run over. Trust me. Just take the gentle classes to start with. The you can pick a few asanas (poses) from class to use in your home practice. Be sure to ask the teacher for the name, and even to check your form for you after class. Most teachers adore it when students ask for help like this. Plus, you will be able to develop some basic confidence when you are sure your form is right.
2. Get a good book. I am listing a few excellent books with poses described below. While I feel the personal support of a teacher in the flesh is necessary at some point, not everyone has the luxury to access this all the time. I actually had to start my own practice with a collection of books. I think some benefit are gained from working this way. a. You develop a close relationship to your own body, which is valuable beyond your imaginings. b. you gain a confidence in working in your own way that many who study in classes have to work hard to gain later. c. you become more creative and inventive with how the poses fit together. When you work with a book, you naturally become creative at putting the asanas into different orders. Your boredom will teach you. You find that some things work while others definitely do not. Believe this when you feel it.
So here are some recommended books from my own practice. I am sure you will enjoy them. And don’t forget, you can always call me for a consult on how to incorporate these resources into your own practice to suit your personal needs and style. Check out my services info and contact information here.