Having Trouble Practicing? Yoga Goals.

I hit another dry spell, just four classes in two weeks. (I usually do a bit of stretching and meditating in the mornings, but my asanas were being neglected.) I did two home practices, but they petered into staring at the wall, and not in a meditative way. I’ve started the Yoga Anatomy and Application of Breath-Centered Yoga classes on Wednesdays, so I have all this great new information to explore, but I have just not been excited to move.

When I get out of my practice habit, all sorts of justifications and confused rationalizations arise. Like, isn’t walking a meditation anyways? I walk a lot! Aren’t asanas just intended to clear the mind for meditation? I meditate! Yoga is not just asanas, and I keep up the other parts, so aren’t I still practicing yoga? It’s like when I am so far past needing a haircut that I tell myself it’s actually a new, shaggy layered cut that looks really good. (Photos eventually advise me this is not the case.) Plus, I’m trying to stop doing things I think I should do, and start doing things I really want to do. (It’s my secret plan for growing up.) And yoga (asana practice) is in this weird place where I love doing it, but I don’t often want to do it. I used to practice very very athletically, and I think there’s all that memory of stress and strain that’s off-putting. Or I’m just laaaaaaaa-zyyyyyyyyyy. (And my boyfriend was living here for a week! It’s all his fault!)

Actually, I don’t have a regular lifestyle right now, and that’s probably the real root. Each day is different, each week is different, which means there’s a lot more decisions to make. And opportunities to skip. When I committed to Julianna’s Wednesday morning class, I went every week. The commitment got me out of bed when I didn’t want to get up, and gradually created positive associations for doing so.

But then I’ve had this whole other drama of wanting to practice on my own. I used to teach the morning classes at Om Factory, and it was usually just me and Fara (the owner), so I got to teach whatever I felt like each day, and practice too. It was the best. I had to show up, since I was teaching, but it ended up being this sweet buddy practice where I came up with a million new vinyasa routines. So obviously I do more when someone is watching me, but of course what matters is what you do when nobody is looking…

I got a good tip from Ariel (my new favorite teacher, why have I not blogged about him yet? Another Laughing Lotus expatriate, he and Julianna are the best and although this blog purports to be about good classes, I have not posted about either of them. Looks like I’m trying to hog them for myself). I told him I was having trouble practicing vinyasa at home, and I was wondering if I should keep trying to go with the flow, or go back to more of a set sequence. He said that when he started practicing at home, he would think of a pose he wanted to get into, and then think how he needed to prepare the body to get into it: open the hips, square the hips, etc., and then write that down.

So, I’m going to think a little bit further ahead. I get so “be here now” with all the present-moment focus of meditation, that I forget that it’s okay to be goal-oriented. I have been approaching my home practices one pose at a time, “how do I feel right now and which pose should come next,” instead of “which pose do I feel like doing, and how am i going to get there,” acknowledging the preparatory work that is needed. The stream-of-consciousness flow can come later, not in the difficult opening minutes.

And, I’m going to try to commit to a regular time. (Note that I can’t even commit to saying “I commit” yet.) 4pm has been good lately; it’s when I hit my afternoon work slump, and there are a lot of teacher-focused (or cheap/community) classes then if I decide to go out for class. Plus, I read that Vatas (and people with sleep disorders) do better practicing in the evening, since it clears their minds for sleep. Finally I can let go of my guilt at not doing the almighty morning practice!

I guess the biggest lesson for me here is that while it’s good to keep a sense of perspective, there’s help to be found if you look for it.