We all go through it. The yoga wall. The plateau. The yoga slump.
We've been practicing yoga solidly for a while. We do our practice daily, be it at home or in the studio. We've been making progress and we feel the yoga high. Our teacher is giving us new postures, and we collect them like a new badge of honor on our sleeve.
Then... we hit a a plateau.
That's ok, we understand that progress is not linear, so we keep coming back. We let go of our desire to acquire new postures, yet we still feel frustrated some days. We ask ourselves, what am I doing wrong? What can I do better? What other life style changes do I need to make? We stop drinking wine, we go to bed earlier, we change our diet, our friends and family think we're crazy with all the strange new foods that made their way into the pantry. Yet, despite all this, no changes. We're still on the plateau.
Our personal circumstances change. We move, change jobs, have a baby, need to take care of a sick parent, experience injury. What ever the changes are, they are significant enough that our regular yoga routine has fallen by the way side.
We look for a new shala, but maybe there isn't one close enough to commute to. We try and maintain practice at home but it's so difficult to get motivated. We miss the energy of practicing with a community, or we miss having the teacher guide us through the practice. So we keep going, but sometimes it may feel like we are just going through the motions. We do less of our practice, or we check out, or (gasp) skip our practice completely over more days than we'd like to admit.
And we realize, we've hit a yoga slump.
Sometimes, we've fallen so far off our practice, we feel like we're in a manhole. Inertia makes it so difficult to climb out. We backslide and berate ourselves for doing it.
Know that all of this is OK! There is no right or wrong way to do your practice, and that practice is really a way for us to discover who we are. It is in these moments of frustration that allow us to explore our own personal tendencies. It is an opportunity for growth, though in the moment it may not seem that it is.
Today, I'd like to help and inspire you to find ways to re-kindle a little bit of that flame that we all experience at the beginning.
Even if the plateau or monotony is there and no new poses are coming, there are ways to bring a little of that yoga glow back.
Hint - for those who love variety, or distractions (I raise my hand to that), the plateau may be exactly what we need.
1. Practice non-attachment.
Show up to your practice without attachment to the results. Yes, practice can get boring after a while when you're doing the same thing every day. You're ego is what is ready to move on, but the body is way more intelligent than the ego. Listen to what it's telling you. Let go and surrender to the wisdom that's present within. I know we all hear, enjoy the journey, not the destination, but what if the journey isn't smooth? It's all in our perspective and our tendencies in how we push, resist or completely surrender to the process reflects back to us where our work lies. There are no wrong or right answers, just the ones that we find in the practice of looking within.
2. Write down why you practice.
Create an intention for the month. Why is yoga an important part of your life? Why do you practice? Write it down on a mirror, your fridge, vision board, inside of your closet, your dashboard, your home screen on your phone to remind yourself why it is that you do your practice. This will keep you on the track to come back. We all know that no matter how icky we feel before we step on the mat, we release that ickiness when we move a little bit. Your practice may not be what you want it to be on those days, but at least you've moved with the breath enough to release what you need to let go. Come back to your why.
3. Create an inspired yoga practice space.
No matter how much space you have to practice there are ways to bring love and devotion to your practice space. If you're practicing at home, try and do your practice in the same space every day. You can lift up space where your practice with a small jar of flowers cut from the garden, a few small led candles next to sacred objects, or images, and quotes that remind you take time for practice.
4. Read inspiring books or blogs.
Words provide healing medicine to the soul. If you're feeling uninspired, source books on yoga at the library or ask your yoga friends what they're currently reading. Some of my favorite blogs are Ashtanga Dispatch, Ekam Inhale, Peace, Love Yoga, and Realizing Mysore.
BTW - please share some of your favorite books or blogs in the comments below. I love finding new sources for inspiration.
5. Practice off the mat.
If you feel like you're going through the motions take your yoga off the mat. Your why will help guide the way. If it's connection your looking for, spend time with your loved ones, or make some time to cultivate friendships that you've been meaning to pay attention to.
If it's finding inner peace or healing that is your focus, take your meditation practice on a hike into the woods, mountains or beach and leave your phone and screens behind. If it's service or community, find a tribe that aligns with your core values and contribute to the community. The options are endless and may spark the joy that you are looking for to carry you past the current plateau or yoga slump.
We all experience these moments in life, be they last for only a few days, weeks or months. Be kind to yourself when you go through these moments and know that the practice is there to support you.
Till the next time we meet again.