Friday, August 24, 2012

Call the Yoga Police!

Last week I really slacked off my yoga practice. My parents were visiting and they stayed across the lake in Westbank. Every day I went to their campsite and relaxed, went swimming, drank wine and ate junk food. Every day as the hours passed I had that little voice inside my head - panicking - telling me I was missing yoga class and I should be on my mat right now!!!

This can be a problem for us yogis. When we get into a routine of going to yoga class we feel so good practicing, we don't want to miss a single day. Bikram yoga infuses discipline into the practice and teaches us to gain control of our body in order to tame our 'monkey mind'. These are great things but what about when you start feeling guilty and anxious for missing a class? I once had a student tell me that if she misses a class she continuously looks at the clock, mentally going through which posture she would be doing if she were in class at that moment. How can you enjoy the time outside the room with your mind so distracted?

Yoga means union. In the hot room it is easy to see how we connect the mind and the body but what about practicing your yoga outside of the hot room... When you miss a few days and your mind is going crazy giving you a guilt trip, take a step back and breathe. Bikram says your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Just like you breathe through and let go of the critical thoughts you might have about yourself in the hot room, see if you can let go of some of the guilt you might have about not going to class.

I find when I've been practicing three to five times a week regularly and miss a few days of yoga, I actually get mad at myself for every day that I don't go. Each day seems like a missed opportunity to take class and when I can't make it I get upset. Last week I pulled back and reminded myself that I actually don't go to yoga every single day, so it's ok to miss a few and make them up later. It helped me calm down and enjoy the time with my family.

After taking a few extra days (or weeks) off yoga we're confronted with another source of anxiety: returning to the hot room. I told a few of the teachers here at the Kelowna studio that I had only practiced a couple of times last week and instead of shaking their heads in dismay and disgust they were overwhelmingly sympathetic. They were not judging and telling me I should have tried to come in and taken a class. All of them told me that the reason we practice yoga in the first place is so our quality of life is improved and we can indulge ourselves sometimes without having to worry too much about the outcome.

When I went to class for the first time this week yes it was a little rough... tight muscles and joints, major dizziness and detoxing happening. But I kept thinking to myself that if I had done just one or two more classes last week I would be feeling fine. That's it. Not five more classes like I felt I had missed out on. I realized I need to not let my mind make a mountain out of a molehill, next time life gets busy just try to fit in one extra class and all will be good.

Remember that we practice yoga in the hot room to become better people outside of the hot room. All the lessons we learn about patience, determination and acceptance can be applied to everything we do. Don't beat yourself up about missing a few classes now and then, especially if it's for a good reason like enjoying time with your family and loved ones or indulging in an activity that is meaningful to you. These are precious times made even more special by the fact that your yoga practice has taught you to be present and savor the moment.

Then use your determination and get back in the hot room. Accept that you might have a tough one but at one point during class you will think "ahhhhh why didn't I come in here sooner? My body loves this!".

P.S. I love this video & it inspired this post!

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