As a yoga teacher, I think I’ve heard about every yoga excuse, or “yo-scuse,” in the book. I not only hear them from the students I teach, I also hear them from friends and family that have never tried the practice. These are the same people that have asked me if I’m a contortionist or if everyone in my family is double-jointed. This always makes me laugh. I am so far away from being either of things. I simply practice, work hard, and trust that everything is coming – the healing, the flexibility, the strength, and the stillness.
As we roll into the New Year this week, it is my wish that we call a thing a thing and move on. These rationalizations, or “yo-scuses,” are not helping you grow or feel better in your life. These are the reasons you feel stuck, or helpless, as if outside forces are in control of your life and destiny.
For those of you that practice yoga, I hope you let some of these things go, so you can move on in your practice to new challenges. For those of you who don’t practice at all, I urge you to at least give yoga a try. If it keeps showing up in your life – people talking about it at the office, a new studio opening up nearby, your cousin keeps posting pictures of her practice to Instagram and it looks kind of cool to you – maybe that is the Universe trying to get you to begin. A sign, some might say.
And as you read this, your mind immediately attaches to one of these yo-scuses:
1. I’m too busy. Nope. I’m sorry, but no one is too busy to take care of themselves for at least an hour a day. If you are, I would rethink some of the things that you committed yourself to or the job that is overworking you to the point that you don’t have any time for yourself. The time is there if you look for it. Maybe you are home with three kids right now and shouting at the page that you really are too busy. There are ways to work this out. Some studios have childcare at certain times. You could also form a small group of moms that are willing to help each other out so that you can all make it to the studio at some point during the week, swapping when someone can watch the kids for a couple of hours, so that another mom can make it to their mat. If you make your Self a priority, you will find a way. You simply have to want to actually do it.
2. It’s easier to go running/the gym/workout at home. I get that. I DO that sometimes. I opt for my home practice or go for a quick run and then move on with my day. But I know that my true practice resides at the studio. That is where most of the real work is done. It forces me to hold the postures longer than I might at home, it’s definitely hotter at the studio (I practice and teach Bikram Yoga), and the instructor is watching and correcting my form to make sure I get the most out of my practice. Easier isn’t better. The good things in life are not always convenient.
3. I’ll never get any bendier/stronger than I already am. What? This comment always makes me crazy. I’ve actually heard it from yogis – good yogis – the ones that are always on their mat. And all I have to say to that is: If you believe it, then it will be true for you. Your body can change for the better as you age. Yoga proves that every day. Sure, you have to have patience and allow the body to unfold and open up, but it can happen if you are persistent, work each day with what you already have, and build from there.
4. That posture (pick one that challenges you) is not for me. Every posture is for every body. Learn to build postures day by day and eventually you will start to achieve the small goals of each posture. Postures are not there to just be achieved – something to go after and then abandon once you’ve hit the “goal.” They are there to teach you something about you, your body, and your mind.
5. If I didn’t have this injury/disease/inflammation/sickness I would go to class. That injury/disease/inflammation/sickness is the reason you show up to class. This is yoga therapy, not just a work out. If you’ve never tried it, or only tried it a handful of times, now is the time to start. It’s the beginning of a new year. There is that feeling of possibility in the air. You are more than whatever ails you. Show up, do your best, don’t be too hard on yourself and give it a serious try. Go three days in a row and see how you feel. Make a decision after that, not before, about keeping up a yoga practice.
6. I will never heal. This is the way things are. Take it from someone that does practice with pain, you can heal. My hip bothers me every day. But if I show up to class, I have zero pain afterwards and feel great for the rest of the day. I hope that one day I will wake up and there will be zero hip pain. Actually, this year it’s gotten better and better. If you need other examples of how this yoga can heal you, go to the Views from the Podium Your Yoga Stories Page. You can heal – not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well.
7. It’s too expensive. Okay, I hear you. Going to a studio is not cheap. But, if you are at the studio, you have less time to go shopping, or have drinks, or do the million things that make your bank account smaller. There are also so many ways in which your yoga practice will save you money in the long run. Also, most studios have a work trade program, or a karma yoga program, in which you can do light cleaning a couple of times a week in exchange for yoga classes. If you want to start, or continue, your yoga practice there is always a way to make it happen.
8. It’s too hard. Yes, yoga is hard. It’s meant to challenge you. What challenges you, has the power to change you. There is no adventure in staying comfortable. Where is your sense of adventure?
9. I’m too old. Stop that. No one is too old for anything. I hope when I’m ninety-three I take up a new hobby or finally take the time to learn to play guitar. The day you stop learning and growing is the day you have decided to age. It is the day you actively stopped living.
10. I don’t like the heat. Here’s a secret you might not be aware of: None of us do in the beginning. Sure, there is the odd student that walks into the studio and declares they love the heat from the beginning, but most people are terrified of it. They are astonished at the amount of sweat that can roll off their body all at once, and the tomato red of their cheeks by the end of class. But, over time you almost can’t picture your life without a room that reaches temps well over 100 degrees. Try it. Devote yourself to coming to the hot room three or four times a week for two weeks. More than likely you will change your mind about the heat. You will actually start to like it.
This New Year is full of possibilities. You can have a whole new beginning if you want and re-invent yourself to your liking. The things you thought you would never do, might be the things you try and embrace. I hope yoga is one of them.
And if you already have a devoted yoga practice, my wish is that you keep it up. Your practice is more than something that is just for you – it’s for your family and friends, for you work colleagues and for the people that you practice with day after day. Because when you practice and take care of your Self, you are leading with a strength and confidence that this world needs right now. Keep on, keepin’ on.
Happy New Year and thank you from Views from the Podium!