The Hard Work of Yoga
Does this feel familiar?
You sit on your mat waiting for class to start.
The instructor begins, setting the mood for the class. Her voice is calm and serene, with just the right amount of joy.
You take a nice deep breath, thinking,
This is good. This is just what I need.
And then it happens . . . The monkey mind invades your practice.
Did I turn the coffee pot off?
It’s Sarah’s birthday next week. I have to remember to pick up a gift.
I can’t believe I’m stuck with that stupid reporting assignment at work.
Oh wait . . . Yoga. Breathe. . .
The teacher’s voice comes back into your consciousness. You open one eye and sneak a look around the room. Everyone is totally into this and you can’t even remember what the instructor said 3 seconds ago.
But you smile. You are back. Here. Fully present. On your mat.
The asanas begin. It’s the first down dog of the class. Your arms are shaking, your hamstrings are tight, your lower back feels like someone has laid cement in your lower vertebrae, and you can’t find a breath deep enough to clear your mind.
Remember Sarah’s birthday.
Seriously, can one coffee pot start a fire?
Then you think:
I’m never going to make it through this class.
I should have stayed home.
We’ve all been there. And frankly, the urge to run out at the beginning of class happens more times than any of us would like to admit.
Why is that? It’s because yoga is hard. Sure the poses are difficult, but it’s much more than moving your body. A yoga practice is about giving your brain a break, clearing your head, and opening your heart. It’s about facing life’s trials and triumphs and coping as optimistically as possible. And that is very hard work, indeed.
What’s harder than yoga?
NOT doing yoga.
I recently took an unintentional 3-week hiatus from yoga. I was traveling internationally and then proceeded to get sick upon arriving home. By the time I stepped onto my mat, 3 long weeks had passed. Physically, I felt tight, old, and crotchety. Mentally, I felt cranky, unmoored and a bit adrift.
Interestingly, the mental crabbiness dissipated much faster than wonkiness in my hamstrings and lower back. But that didn’t matter. I was back on my mat, making my best effort to overcome my monkey mind and feeling fine.
What about you? What happened when you took a break from your practice? Comment below and share your thoughts with me.