Yoga Every Damn Day?
How in the world is that even possible?
I used to ask myself that question and then shame myself for not being more like those mythical creatures who seem to have boundless time and energy to do their fancy practice everyday. Did they live in an alternate universe where the rivers flow with green juice, fancy yoga pants grow on trees, and you earn money from posting sunset yoga selfies? Surely they didn't have kids, dirty houses, jobs, husbands, or any of the other things that kept me from practicing. They must be bursting with self-esteem, motivation, and positivity. They must not have bad days. They must never struggle to get on their yoga mat. Their ninety minute advanced asana routines must magically, effortlessly unfold.
Surely they were nothing like me.
There I was - a young mom with two little kids and a husband who worked long hours. I struggled to complete even the most basic tasks throughout the day. How the hell was I going to do the full ashtanga yoga primary series 6 days a week? Yoga classes and babysitters are expensive, and my time and energy were so in demand at home that you’d think I was Beyonce. Everything was working against me making, much less freely having, time for a regular asana practice.
So what changed?
None of the stuff I described above, I assure you! My life may even be more hectic now that I run my own part-time business and co-run our family business in addition to being a mom, wife, friend, homemaker, daughter, sister, etc etc etc. I still have shitty days when my motivation is zero. I still struggle with doubt and self worth. My asana practice is still hard.
But I did make some important changes.
First, I changed my expectation of what practice should consist of. I got it out of my head that I HAD to do my full practice 6 days a week or I had failed. I accepted that even a handful of sun salutations was enough. I began to understand that even if that’s all I ever did for the rest of my life, I would still be better off than having never done any at all.
These days I do more than sun salutations, but my practice is still generally low intensity. Sometimes I surprise myself and work all the way through a ninety minute hardcore practice, but most days it's around 30-45 minutes with modifications to nurse whatever pain is nagging my body. Half primary is my jam! I finally accept the fact that if I put pressure on myself to do more than what feels truly right for me, I get sucked back into a cycle of perceived failure and shame. An asana practice that I hate is an asana practice that I wont do, not for long anyway.
Ultimately, it finally sunk in that the benefit of yoga is not the asana practice itself, but in the habit of practicing. That’s where the magic is. Whether five minutes or two hours, every time we step onto our mats we cultivate more discipline, more dedication, and more power to work through the patterns that might interfere with our practice, and, of course, our lives in general. Every time we practice we get better at practicing. Funny how that works!
The second thing I changed was the belief that the circumstances had to be ideal for me to get on my mat. I used to let any old excuse stop me. If I couldn’t have an uninterrupted block of time, I wouldn't practice. If the temperature wasn’t right, I wouldn't practice. If my good sports bra was in the wash, I wouldn't practice. If I had a headache or a sore muscle, I wouldn't practice.
No wonder it felt impossible! I was waiting for a time and place that didn't exist.
Now I practice no matter what. If my good bra is dirty, I don't do much jumping that day! If the room is too cold, I up the tempo of my practice to keep my body warm. If my kids need something, I help them and get back on my mat. If I’m feeling sick, I just do some forward folds and gentle twists as movement therapy. If my wrist is hurting, no chaturangas.
I stopped taking no for an answer, and it made all the difference.
Don’t get the wrong idea. This transformation didn't happen overnight. It was a slow, six and a half year process that has taken many twists and turns along the way. This has been my personal journey and it will look different from another’s. If you're reading this and longing to have your own regular yoga practice, the best advice I could give is to never, ever compare yourself to anyone else. Don't read this and think if your trajectory is different than mine that you won’t succeed. Don’t look at the Kino Macgregors of the world and think that is what a yoga practice has to look like for it to be “right” or “good”. I made that mistake for far too long and put myself through a lot of shame. And injuries. Ha!
Truly respect your limits and don't give up. It’s that simple.
P.S. I love Kino MacGregor and consider her to be one of my most influential teachers. It's not an exaggeration to say that she opened the world of Ashtanga Yoga to me in way I hadn't seen before. I'm indebted to her! But she's also a total badass and if you're not secure in yourself with a strong understanding of what yoga really is, watching her and others like her could scare you off before you even start. Even Kino will tell you she couldn't always do that stuff. Let the Kinos inspire you but keep it all in perspective :)