I did NOT want to practice yoga yesterday. I wanted to go home after teaching the early morning class and climb back into bed and forget about the fact that the house was a mess, I hadn’t written then next blog post, and I am fighting the fact that I feel fat, fat, FAT after the holidays have officially come to a close, even though I have to admit, I’m just bloated and being dramatic. It took every ounce of energy and discipline to keep me at the studio in between classes, knowing that if I didn’t stay I would probably regret it and have to play catch up all week long to get my practice in. So, I stayed and I went through it and it wasn’t awful and it wasn’t amazing…it was my yoga for the day.
Everyday your yoga practice will present you with new challenges. It will never get old. Some days it’s clear sailing, other days you feel like you are being tested by the very Universe to find your focus, concentrate on your breath, and take in each movement of your body. Yesterday my yoga was to simply stay and take class when I was battling resistance towards it.
Distractions are everywhere if you allow yourself to be taken in by them. You have probably heard that the key to conquering distractions is to simply let everything go. If that sounds easy, you have not been to the studio lately. It is honestly one of the hardest things to do, but it does become easier the longer you practice. Below are common distractions you will encounter on your yoga journey and some simple tricks and tips I have found along the way to help as you enter the hot room each day.
People – People are everywhere and everyone in your life is a reflection of you. As the Course in Miracles states, “There is only one of us here.” If the person next to you while practicing is offending you in some way – smelly, flicking sweat on you, making noise, being an overall distraction – the way you react to it says more about where your yoga practice is that day than anything else. Have compassion for the soul next to you. They are more than likely doing the absolute best they can in that given moment.
Noise – I have been in classes where I can barely hear myself think while music plays outside, where construction is being done right on the other side of the wall, or fellow students could not remain silent and talked on and off throughout the 90-minutes. You must find the silence within yourself in these situations. You are learning how to be the calm in the storm. Be more concerned with your practice than that water bottle that just hit the floor with a loud clang. The more attention you give the noise the louder it will bang around in you head.
The Instructor – We have all had an instructor that got on our nerves or didn’t deliver the class we were anticipating. These feelings usually dissipate the more you practice. When I first started practicing there were teachers I liked and teachers I didn’t. But now whenever I practice I simply have gratitude for the person on the podium. They want to teach this yoga for a reason and they genuinely want the best for you. If you remember that, maybe you will come to appreciate the teacher you once avoided.
The Voice in Your Head – Sometimes the most distracting thing you will face during your yoga practice is your mind. Thoughts bang around and drift to every corner of your life while you should be focused on the task at hand and the breath coming in and out of the body at that given moment. The best thing to do is to continue on with the practice, bringing yourself back to the present moment time and again until you can sustain it. The worst thing to do is to lean into the thoughts. The more you concentrate on distraction the bigger it will become. The mind was intended to problem solve. If you lean into a thought it will speed up as the mind reaches for a solution. Let it go. Concentrate on the posture. Concentrate on the breath.
When the is Body Not Cooperating – We all have days during our practice where we feel pretty much awful. We might be chasing off an illness, dealing with tired or stiff muscles, or find ourselves dehydrated beyond belief before we even get to Eagle Pose. It happens, but concentrating on what’s going wrong is not going to make your practice any better. Be aware of where you are that day, take breaks if you need to, and do what you can. Don’t sweat it. Even the most experienced and dedicated yoga practitioners have days like this. You can get through it and come out feeling great on the other side if you simply pay attention to where you are and take care of yourself throughout the class.
The Heat – If you are a Bikram Yoga practitioner you know what I’m talking about. Some days the heat feels so HOT! All your brain can think about is how hot you are, how much sweat is running off the body, and how red your face looks in the mirror. Always make sure you are hydrated, that you are eating good foods and generally taking care of yourself outside of the room, as well as, inside the room. Some days feel hotter than others for a variety of reasons. Do what you can and take care of yourself, but try to not lean into the drama of the experience by fanning yourself, wiping the sweat, or fidgeting – it will only make you feel even hotter. Think cool thoughts. I always like to imagine I’m lying on an iceberg – sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.
No Heat – There are times that inevitably the heat will not be working at a studio. It usually doesn’t happen often, but there are days when that room is not hot. Isn’t it funny how all of a sudden you miss the drippiness of it? Instead of focusing on what is going wrong take that time to focus on your form, your breath control, or your discipline as you move from posture to posture. There is always something to work on. Having a yoga practice means you will always have something new to learn – that is what makes it challenging and fun.
I have often heard it said that yoga is everything. What does that mean? Everything? Is that even possible? When I allow myself to reflect on this I know deep in my heart that yoga is more than just the postures or a 90-minute span of my life. It is how I react and how I stay on the path no matter where I am throughout the day. It is focusing on the task at hand, letting go of any kind of distraction, and treating every soul I meet with the compassion and kindness they deserve. Yoga is me. Yoga is you. Yoga is everything. What was your yoga today?
Love the blog? You will love the book! Follow my yoga journey and the accomplishments of five of my students, as well as, recount some of the most popular blog posts in my first book: Views from the Podium: The Life & Times of a Hot Yogi.