It’s that time of year at the studio where when I see a familiar face come through the doors I realize I haven’t seen that face for a couple of weeks. Out on vacation, out with the kids and family, or simply enjoying everything about the summer months, you might find that getting to yoga class has become an afterthought, or downright impossible. Even as a teacher I feel the pull of the sunny day outside that has me negotiating with myself that I can practice tomorrow, and no one would be the wiser.
As summer is starting to wrap up, each day before I start class I have a student come up to me and say something along the lines of, “I’m a bit scared. I’ve been on vacation for the past week and hope I survive the class.” I remind them they’ve done it before, that they made it to the studio (which is the hardest part), and they will be glad to be back once class is over.
I’ve also had students scared to go on vacation, thinking that their practice will suffer and they might “lose” all of their hard work. I completely understand. I remember when I was traveling for my acting gigs having a bad dream about no longer being able to backward bend the way I know I can, as I stood on a 3 foot mat that kept making me lose my balance throughout the series. Eight weeks later though, when the show came to a close and I came home to my husband and my practice, I could still back bend, grab my feet, kick out, and succeed in the hot room. Things might not have been as deep as they were before I left, but the practice didn’t go back to ground zero.
The main thing is getting back into the hot room. After a week, or maybe a couple of weeks off, it’s easy to lose sight about why you practice. You’re feeling great from vacation, you still have a glimmer of a yoga glow going on, and everything seems to be clicking along nicely. Why do you go to that hot, sweaty, loud, bright room again? You won’t know until you get back to it. After class it will be perfectly clear when you stare at your red faced, looks like someone dumped a bucket of water over your head reflection in the mirror and smile at what you see, floating out of the studio with renewed energy towards your car.
So, this week I thought I’d make an argument for why you should get back to the studio as quickly as you can after you’ve arrived home from vacation, or simply taken a break throughout the summer months.
- You will get over jet lag quicker. There is nothing worse than the groggy, I-can’t-believe-my-vacation-is-over feeling that jet lag gives you. Your practice will ground you, help you recover, and get you back to the pace of your everyday life. Jet lag occurs because your circadian rhythms are disrupted. Melatonin, a hormone secreted by your pineal gland, helps control circadian rhythms. Yoga stimulates the pineal gland, which stimulates melatonin production. Get to class. You will feel so much better!
- Release your vacation toxins. Did you eat too much? Drink too much? Slather yourself in sunscreen or bug spray? Sweat that stuff out and get your body working efficiently once again. There is nothing better than a good sweat fest to clean the body from the inside out.
- Get the kinks out. Whether you flew or drove you probably sat for a good amount of time while you were traveling. Sitting can be hard on your back, hips, neck and shoulders. When I haven’t practiced in awhile (for me anything over 3 days is awhile) I notice my hips don’t feel like they are in the right place and my shoulders carry way too much tension. Balance the body out with a good stretch that helps to put everything back into place. It’s funny how you think you feel great until you get back to your practice and realize what feeling great can actually be for you.
- The longer you delay the more unlikely you will get back to it. It’s the truth. I have students contact me each week that talk about coming back and how much they miss the practice, the studio, the people, yet they don’t make it a priority and it never happens. Put it on the calendar. Make a date with you. Know that it is important. Get back to it. The longer you delay, the scarier it will be. The first class back is always the most daunting. You are yoga strong. Remember that.
- Reconnect with your yoga family. There really is no place on earth like the yoga studio and the kind, generous, and supportive souls that inhabit it. Your yoga friends have missed you and want to hear about your travels. If there is no other reason to get back to your practice, go back for that. The best people I know are at the studio, smiling, sweating, working hard, and supporting each other posture after posture, breath after breath.
- Go to your everyday vacation “me” time place. Face it. Vacation only lasts a couple of weeks a year at best. Your yoga practice will always be there. It helps you reconnect with your own best Self and gives you the time and space to take stock in your life. Make the hot room your ultimate destination and reap the rewards. Class is starting and the heat is on. See you on the mat?
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