It’s August. You look at the date and can barely believe it. Where did the summer go? Between balancing your crazy schedule, the added chaos of having the kids home week after week, and trying to fit in quality time with friends, family, and that special someone, your summer has passed by like a blink of an eye. And admittedly you have not had time to get to the studio and squeeze in your yoga practice. Even as you think about it, you missed the sweaty heat of it. That incredibly euphoric feeling after completing a class. The way your shoulders and hips feel more open and light as you make your way to your car and enter the “real” world again.
But, oh, how embarrassing…you don’t even want to contemplate what all the “good” yogis , the ones who continued their practice throughout the hot summer months, will think as you make your way back into the studio after such a long break. You know they will silently judge you. And the teachers. After they put so much time cheering you on as you triumphed through Triangle or contemplated Toe Stand. Won’t they be disappointed that you haven’t kept up your practice?
It was about 3 years into my regular Bikram practice that I took a huge break. Not just one that lasted for a season, but one that lasted for about a year and a half. I had unexpectedly received my Actor’s Equity Card and become part of the actor’s union – which is no easy feat! But with this career move I knew I would be starting over. I could no longer work at non-union theatres and was, thus, playing in the big leagues. Up until that point I was used to booking an average of 5 shows a year – sometimes way more, sometimes a little less – and I knew that now I would be lucky to book 2 shows a year in the beginning. I was at a new starting point. I also wanted to stop traveling as much and stay close to my home and family.
With this all in place I realized that I could do some of the things I had put off because I was always traveling. I could train for and run a half marathon, try other kinds of yoga, and take the acting classes, such as Shakespeare, on-camera, and audition technique that I had always said I would. So, I decided that I had had enough of Bikram Yoga, and it was time for new adventures.
I spent the next year and a half accomplishing new goals. I tried Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and standard Hatha Yoga at various studios in my area. I trained and ran 2 half marathons and tons of other races, and I worked with a new voice coach, took those intensive Shakespeare classes, and hit a ton of auditions. Life was good. I didn’t even give Bikram Yoga a thought.
Until, I did. It crept back into my mind like a long forgotten friend. I started daydreaming about going back to class at my old studio and what that first breath in Pranayama would feel like as the hot air filled my lungs and my shoulders contracted. It took me about a week before I had the courage to go back. I was worried the teachers would recognize me and be disappointed that I had been gone so long. Or even worse they wouldn’t recognize me at all. I was long forgotten as someone who had bailed on the practice.
As I approached the front desk to check in, I was happy to see one of my favorite teachers. “It must be homecoming week!” she said, “I keep seeing the students I haven’t seen in months check into class over the past couple of days. So glad you came back in for class!” A wave of relief passed over me. It was o.k. I took a break. Experienced new things, but the Bikram Series was still there to come back to.
Now that I am on the other side of the desk I understand what a joy it is to see students you might not have seen in awhile. Everyone takes breaks – whether you have actively chosen the break or had it pushed upon you because of circumstance is of no concern. The yoga will still be there when you get back.
Many students feel guilty about not practicing throughout the summer months. But I always remind them that the yoga is there for them to learn how to live their best life, to find balance, not to have them sweating in a hot room every single day. Will you feel better if you get your class in? Yes, undeniably. Will the world end if you don’t? No.
Acknowledge you took a break. You had a great summer spending time with friends and family. But know that you will always be welcomed back to the hot room with open arms. The teachers and your friends at the studio will be excited to see you return and that first breath in Pranayama Breathing will feel like absolute bliss.
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