Yoga and I have been together for almost 20 years. This is one of the longest relationships in my life. Like most relationships, we have had our ups and downs.
We had honeymoons where I couldn’t get enough. We also had periods of recession when I resisted and resented. Yoga healed me and hurt me. I went through a thorny path, I took root where it seemed that I would get stuck. Despite all this, I grew up thanks to yoga and remain devoted to it. I learned to fall in love again and again. After all, the longest and most significant relationships in our lives are usually not the most exciting. With yoga, we have experienced everything: good, bad, boring.
What to do when you lose your love for yoga?
I cannot count the number of new students who discover yoga and come to classes several times a week. This number is equal to the number of practitioners who burn out and never appear on the threshold of the hall again. It’s like your favorite song. It captivates you at first and sounds great the first 200 times. But then you find that you never want to hear it again. The relationship with yoga is a marathon, not a race. Our goal is to keep the practice going throughout life, and that requires patience.
If you hit a plateau – a point in your practice where you feel like you’re no longer improving – the most tempting thing to do is to quit. Please don’t give up! This is fine. In fact, this is a useful period. At this time, you will learn perseverance, begin to grow and develop on a more subtle level than the physical. Like romantic relationships, honeymoons can be temporary, but it’s after that that real intimacy begins.
Whatever vivid feelings you have now for yoga – love or dislike – know that yoga will be your faithful partner, it will always be with you. Relationships are not uniform. And thank God! They will evolve as you progress. Stay in them. Keep exercising. And try one or more of these ways to fall in love with your practice all over again.
Explore another aspect of the practice. What we know about yoga in the Western world is just the tip of the iceberg of this incredible practice. Many of us are drawn to yoga through the physical postures, but over time, we begin to realize the more subtle benefits, such as stillness of mind and self-knowledge. There are so many poses and so many combinations of sequences that it’s not uncommon to wish for more. When your practice no longer pleases you, try going to meditation or reading a philosophical book on yoga. Our consciousness is multifaceted, so the diversity of the world of yoga can help you discover many new things in yourself.
Spend some time together. Not getting what you want in group classes? Take matters into your own hands. The body is incredibly smart, and if we change the way, it will show exactly what we need. Many students tell me that they skip group classes when they try to do their home practice. They tell me they can’t remember sequences or what to do. I urge you to put aside the need to know the sequence of asanas and instead just move on your mat. Being with yourself and connecting with your body is yoga! So, if you lie in shavasana for 20 minutes or just stand in a warrior pose, this may be just what your body needs. By allowing your body to do what it needs to do, you develop flexibility.
Get help. Most people in successful relationships have sought support at some point. It helps to have an objective third party to come in and see things from the outside in order to get a new perspective and guidance. The same is true for your yoga practice, so I encourage you to consider taking a private lesson. I have to admit that I can’t follow every student in a group class 100% of the time and I am a very responsive and attentive teacher. Working one-on-one gives me the opportunity to tailor the practice to the specific needs of the student. A private yoga class can help you identify specific areas where you can focus and map out a plan for the home practice we talked about above. Even one private lesson every few months can have a lasting impact on your practice.
Consider practicing with other instructors. We only grow to the level of our teacher. That is why it is extremely important to learn from instructors who continue to learn on their own. Let’s be clear that this point is not about doing things here and there. It’s hard to enjoy jumping from teacher to teacher. And this is a common rookie mistake. Instead, try to study with several different teachers for specific but extended periods. It can be incredibly educational. Sometimes, when we feel like we’ve stopped progressing in yoga, we’re not outgrowing the practice, but the particular teacher. This is a natural process of evolution. But we always return in our thoughts to our first teacher with gratitude.
Buy something new for your practice. Remember, when we were kids, year after year we enjoyed new school supplies? There’s something about it. A new thing gives us an incentive to do our usual things again. It is not only about things, but also about energy. If you’ve been practicing on the same mat for the past 10 years, maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit and start a new life. Maybe it’s time for a new rug or non-pilling sportswear. When you feel good, your energy changes. This can so excite and delight you that you will want to spread the rug as soon as possible.