Life Is Incredible. Life Is Hard.
Sometimes life coasts along easily, gracefully. Daily routines feel effortless. Relationships are content and supported. The quietude is comfortable. A sense of calm has permeated existence. I am alive and all is well in my world.
Until it’s not.
Life isn’t always roses and glasses of cool water. Life can get difficult. Sometimes the road washes away admidst the downpour, making forward movement feel like an impossibility. What was once easy and quiet feels chaotic and fucked up. A contented relationship becomes unsettled. Routines get lost. Easy coasting becomes a memory. I am alive and my world feels hard.
And then there’s yoga. When life is moving gracefully, my yoga practice feels like a beautiful extension of who and where I am. My practice is fluid, strong, and full of joy. My practice makes sense, even when I encounter an obstacle on my yoga mat. The desire to push through brings lightness and satisfaction.
But what about when things are falling apart? It’s a completely different story… My physical practice sometimes starts to wane. Because of this, I feel guilty and discontent, adding to the difficulty already being felt. When I do actually make it to the mat, my practice feels weak, disjointed, and lacking in spirit. Encountered obstacles feel like insurmountable mountains, causing tears and frustration. The desire to give up is heavy.
There are a few things at play here…
I have made a differentiation between a good practice and a bad practice. When I feel okay, my practice works. When I feel not okay, my practice doesn’t work. Looking at this habitual thought pattern from a distance, I can recognize that it’s flawed. Yoga practice is never good or bad. No matter what is happening within my life, practice is practice. The fact that I have shown up, amidst happiness or sadness, is all that matters. Is it possible that my practice is even stronger and more important when I am feeling crappy? Can my yoga practice be a beautiful extension of who and where I am, even when I am in a bad space? Yes and yes.
More importantly, when the ceiling feels as though it’s caved in, I need to remember all of the ways in which I am practicing yoga off the mat. Being kind to my partner when I am exhausted and sleep deprived is yoga. Cooking a nice meal with thoughtfulness and intention is yoga. Mindfully watering our flower garden is yoga. Waking up at 2am and patiently taking our puppy girl outside to pee is yoga. Finding moments throughout the day to breath is yoga. I can practice without ever stepping on a mat… How reassuring!
It’s okay to not feel my best. Life is never perfect. Ease will come and go, like the tide. I will have good days. I will have bad days. Learning how to navigate the ups and downs with fluidity can be helpful. That said, allowing myself room to feel like shit is important. Just as important as allowing myself to feel happiness. Learning to live in the moment and adjust my yoga practice accordingly will enable a long and realistic relationship to this ancient wisdom.
Life is incredible. Life is hard. The ebb and flow will continue this way forever. And that’s alright.