This one has taken me all of my yogi time to completely accept and understand. You’re allowed to take a “pause” in your practice. You’re allowed to step back and not feel guilty about it.
I’ve found that the more I try to make my practice a routine, the less I actually want to practice. The more I say, “I’m going to practice every Monday from 6-7pm!” the less likely I am to actually unroll my mat at that time at all. Which can be difficult, I think, when you’re desperately trying to connect with your practice and seemingly failing.
When I start to think like this, I remember that Americans overwork our bodies to the point of destruction. As a culture, we overwork our bodies by eating to much junk food. Drinking too much, smoking too much. We overwork ourselves by exercising not at all or far too much. We’re into the train of thought that in order to be “fit” or in a sport, we must work ourselves into a break down. And what exactly does this mean?
Look at a graduating high school girl who has played competitive volleyball her whole life. What will she tell you? Her shoulders hurt. Her hips crack when she stands up. Her back hurts. Talk to an Olympian about how they feel once they retire. AWFUL. Shoulder injuries, surgeries, pulled muscles, sprained everything. For us, in order to be good, we must be broken. Are you committed enough to be broken for your sport?
And when you look at it that way, you’re probably thinking, “Hmm…that sounds awful.”
So what I tend to do is this; Listen to your body. Your body will tell you if you need to a week or two or three away from your thing. Be it yoga or running or swimming or whatever. There isn’t anything wrong with this! If we connected back to what our bodies are trying to say, we wouldn’t have cracking hips or dislocated shoulders. We’d be healthy.
And listen to your body when it comes to your food. How do you feel after you eat spaghetti? How do you feel after you eat an egg sandwich? If your body feels good and at ease, you’re in the clear. If your body feels achey, try to eat less of that food. Incorporate what your body is trying to say and watch how much better you feel.
In the natural way of things, we need to remember the natural cycles of our body. Respect how you feel. Respect yourself if you don’t want to or feel too tired to practice. Respect your decision to stay home if you just need a second to yourself. These bodies are with us for the whole marathon of life, don’t sprint your way to fitness and destroy yourself in the process.
Header Image via Toa Heftiba.