Less enamored with your practice these days? Try these tips to spice things back up.
Yoga and I have been together for almost 20 years. It is one of the longest relationships I have ever been in. Like most relationships, it has had its ups and downs.
We have had honeymoon periods where I couldn’t get enough. We’ve also had our low periods, where I’ve felt resistant and resentful. Yoga has healed me—and it has hurt me. I have grown in incredible ways, and I have endured long ruts where it seemed like I was doomed to be “stuck.” But, through it all, I stay committed. I’ve learned how to fall back in love over and over again, because the longest-lasting and most meaningful relationships in our lives are not usually the most exciting ones. They are the ones that have endured it all—the good, the bad, and the boring.
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What to Do When You Lose Your Love for Yoga
I cannot count the number of new students who discover yoga and start coming to class multiple times a week at first. It is close to the same number of students who burn themselves out right out of the gate and are never seen again. Remember that song we talked about? Sure, it sounds good the first 200 times—but then it becomes “over-played” and you find yourself doing everything you can to never hear it again. Our relationship with yoga is a marathon, not a race. We want to sustain a practice over our lifetime, and that takes patience.
If you hit a plateau—a point in your practice where you feel like you are no longer improving—it can be tempting to jump ship. Please do not give up here! This is normal. In fact, this is the juicy stuff. This is where you will learn perseverance, and where you will start to grow and evolve on a subtler level than the physical. Like a romantic relationship, the honeymoon may be temporarily over (we’ll talk about rekindling that flame in a moment), but this is where true intimacy is developed.
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Wherever you might fall on this spectrum of falling in—or out of—love with yoga, know that like a reliable partner, yoga will always be there for you. The relationship will not always look the same on the surface, and thank goodness for that! It will evolve as you evolve. Stay with it. Keep practicing. And try one or more of these tactics to help you fall back in love with your practice, over and over again.
Learn a different aspect of the practice. What we know of as 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 in time we start to recognize the subtler benefits, such as stillness of mind and deep connection. There are only so many poses and so many combinations of sequences, so it is not unusual to start to crave more. When your physical practice starts losing its luster, try going to a meditation class or pick up a philosophical book on the subject. There are a multitude of layers to our consciousness and innermost being, and learning in a different way can show you a whole new aspect of yoga—and yourself.
Spend some alone time together. Not getting what you want in group classes? Take matters into your own hands. The body is incredibly intelligent, and when we can get out of our own way, it will tell us exactly what we need. A lot of students tell me they blank out when trying to do a home practice. They tell me they can’t remember the sequences or what to do. I invite you to throw out needing to know and instead, just move on your mat. If we think of the basest definition of yoga as union, being with yourself and connecting to your body is yoga! So what if you lay in Savasana for 20 minutes or only do Warrior II on one leg? This may be just what your body needs. By creating space to let your body do its thing, you are also cultivating 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 to give new perspective and guidance. In the case of your yoga practice, the same is true, which is why I urge practitioners to consider taking a private lesson. I have to admit that it is impossible for me to keep an eye on every student in my group classes 100 percent of the time, and I am an incredibly hands-on teacher. Working one-on-one gives me an opportunity to tailor the practice to my student’s specific needs. A private with your yoga teacher can help you identify specific areas where you can focus, and even provide you with a map for the home practice we talked about above. Even doing one private every few months can have a lasting impact on your practice.
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Consider seeing other teachers. We can only grow as far as the teacher we are studying under. This is why it is imperative to study with teachers who are continuing to learn on their own mat. Let’s get clear here that this is not encouraging “studying around.” It is hard to gain traction when jumping from teacher to teacher, and many new students make this mistake when they start practicing. Instead, try studying under a few different teachers for specific, yet prolonged periods. It can be incredibly educational. Sometimes, when we feel like we are in a rut with yoga, it is not the practice that we have outgrown, but that particular teacher. This is a natural element of evolution. And many times, we return to our original teacher with a new perspective and appreciation.
Buy your practice something special. Do you remember when you were a kid and shopping for school supplies actually made you excited for school? There is something about getting new gear that gives us extra incentive to practice our hobby. It is not just about upgrading, but also about energy. If you have been practicing on the same mat for the past 10 years, perhaps it is time to shake things up a bit and have a fresh start. Maybe it’s time for a new mat, or a pair of yoga pants that aren’t pilling. When you feel good about yourself, it changes your energy—and may just excite you to get back out onto your mat.
8 Times Presidents Sounded Like Yogis
B.K.S Iyengar or J.F.K? Yogic wisdom can inspire a class – and a country.
Being a yogi requires patience, perseverance, and passion. So does running a country. This Presidents Day, reflect on these 8 quotes from past Presidents that encourage people to challenge themselves.
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9 Healthiest (and Trendiest) Places Every NYC Yogi Loves
Don’t miss one (or more!) of these healthy hot spots the next time you’re in the big apple.
Looking to make your next trip to New York City a health- and wellness-focused getaway? Good news: There is no shortage of yoga studios, vegan food options, non-toxic beauty spots, and more to check out in the big apple. If you’re planning a sometime soon, here’s a list of the trendiest spots every NYC-based yogi loves.
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7 Simple Ways to Be Your Own Valentine Today—and Any Day
When was the last time you treated yourself as well as you treat everyone else?
I used to have a vision board in my living room with the words in huge letters emblazoned across the top: “All of me loves all of you.” This was a non-negotiable in calling in my forever partner. The problem was thatI did not yet love all of me, and as I learned through the years of many Mr. Wrongs, we only attract people who love us as much as we love our selves.
For a long time, I was searching for someone(thing) to complete me, when what I really needed was to learn how to be whole on my own. I am now married to the man of my dreams. (Scratch that, I could not have dreamt him up, because I did not yet know that I deserved to be loved as much as he loves me.) It took a lifetime of personal work and self-love practices to finally understand that a good partner does not complete us—they complement us.
You see, the real love story of our lives is the one we have with our selves.
See also 5 Poses to Inspire More Self-Love, Less Self Smack-Talk
So, how do we remember this when every store and advertisement is blasting the messaging that Valentine’s Day is a holiday for couples? By letting this holiday be a celebration of love. Love of others and love for ourselves.
Some people have deemed V-day Singles Awareness Day, which is a great way to take the day back. It is also helpful to do a little digging into history of the holiday. As it turns out, while we have all heard of St. Valentine, for whom the holiday is named, there may have in fact been multiple St. Valentines, and each has a different day of celebration. Translation: While society chooses to honor February 14th as Valentine’s Day, there are numerous other dates in the calendar that could count. What does this mean for us? The date is arbitrary. Everyday can, and should, be a day of love.
So, here’s an idea: How about this Valentine’s Day, you be your own valentine. Give yourself a hug. Hold your own hand. And if that sounds weird, you should be doing these things every single day. Self-love is not selfish or indulgent. When we love ourselves, we are more loving in the world. The kinder we are, the kinder those are around us can be.
Our yoga practice reminds us that we are already perfect exactly was we are and when we can embrace every aspect of our selves, others can, too. Here are some ideas for the perfect self-care day to celebrate self-love this Valentine’s Day, and every day.
See also 5 Poses to Help You Stand in Your Own Power
Look yourself lovingly in the eyes. Mirror affirmations are positive statements spoken aloud while looking into one’s reflection. They are a powerful way to change your view of yourself. You receive messaging all day long, whether you are conscious of it or not. Every time a bus passes or an ad plays on TV or you scroll through your social media feeds, you are receiving information. Most of that information comes with the messaging that you are not enough. Hear/read/see this enough and you start to believe it. Positive affirmations rewire your brain. Studies are now showing that this work improves self-esteem and strengthens your ability to combat negative stimuli, such as stress or others’ negativity. My favorite statement comes from the Queen of positive quotes, Louise Hay: “I am worth loving. There is love all around me.”
Go to the water. Water is the element of emotions and feelings—and the strongest and most powerful feeling is love. On this day, it is therapeutic to use the element of water to immerse yourself in love. If you live near the sea or a lake, go to the shore. If you are near a river, find a place along the edge. If you have access to a pool, dive in. If you are unable to get to any of these bodies of water, take a long soak in a bath. Soaking in water is a way to cultivate union with the deeper parts of our selves and with the world around us. When we are sad, we cry. When we exercise hard, we sweat. When we laugh, we tear. Allow the water to wash love all over you.
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Take yourself to a yoga class. Yoga is a unique activity in that it can be practiced in a group, but it is also an individualized experience. When you are feeling lonely or in need of connection, going to class is a wonderful way to feel a part of something—even when you’re flying solo. Moving as a collective and being in something together automatically cultivates a feeling of unity. I travel the world alone a lot and generally do home practices. When I am in need of company or craving connection, I go to a public yoga class—even if I do not speak the native language. There is something about breathing and sweating as a collective that reminds us that we are all connected, no matter how alone we sometimes feel.
Get a massage. The benefits of massage are numerous, from reducing stress and anxiety to improving sleep, digestion, and immunity. Often the resistance to getting one is financial, but there is no need to go to a fancy spa to get a good massage. Sometimes a $10 foot massage at your local nail salon can be just as impactful. Treating yourself to something nice also sends a deeper message of being cared for to your unconscious. You are your own caretaker. Just as acts of kindness from strangers can change your day, being kind to yourself can have an enormous impact as well.
Buy yourself flowers. When I was 17 years old, my sister bought me my first plant. She said it was going to teach me how to take care of myself. Soon after she gave it to me, I accidentally knocked it out the window of my 3floor dorm room. How is that for symbolic? I felt terrible, but a desire was ignited in me to take better care of my things and myself. Unfortunately, I do not have the best green thumb. I tried having plants in my apartment, but they would always die. I even tried fake plants. After a very hard breakup years later, I wanted to do something nice for myself, so I started buying myself fresh flowers every week. Having living organisms in your home ushers in prana, or energy. You can feel the life force emanating around you.
See also 5 Simple Ways to Fall Back in Love with Your Yoga Practice
Take yourself to the movies. There is nothing I love more than going to the movies by myself. No arguing over what film to see. No one asking questions or chewing loudly next to you, making it hard to hear. And you get to eat allthe popcorn! While it takes courage at first to do things by yourself, it also teaches you how to be comfortable in your own skin. The more content you are on your own, the less likely you’ll be to seek validation from others. It is easy to be swayed by a group. To worry about other’s opinions and to lose sight of our true desires. Without other people around, you learn to hone your own our choices and opinions.
Order in and don’t forget the dessert. Cap your day off by ordering in from your favorite restaurant. Eating alone is a great opportunity to practice mindful eating. When you’re not distracted by company or devices, you can be much more present with the taste of your food. You’re more likely to eat more slowly and chew every morsel more thoroughly when you’re not speaking. It is also nice to journal when dining alone. The temptation will be to reach for your phone and distract yourself with social media or texting friends. Try not to do that. Instead, relish the time to connect more deeply to yourself. Ponder questions like, “What am I grateful for?” or “If I could do anything, what would I do?” Give yourself a compliment by answering the question, “What do I love most about myself?” Just don’t forget the dessert!
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