Isn't the human experience amazing? We know exactly what we need to do to take care of ourselves and make ourselves feel good, and yet, we don't do it. We know how we feel after taking a yoga class, and yet we have to carry ourselves there kicking and screaming to make it happen some days. I bet you think as a yoga teacher that isn't the case for me.
Oh how I wish you weren't so very wrong!
Here's a recent experience of mine:
Decide to go to yoga class because I haven't been in awhile. Put it on my calendar (we'll talk more about that in a second). Day comes. Find myself still at the computer working on the studio website when my alarm goes off telling me it's time to stop and get going. Waste time trying to figure out where the heck my keys are. Get out the door and realize I've forgotten my water bottle (much needed for the class I'm going to). Finally get in the car and hit the highway only to be stuck in traffic. The "plenty of time" cushion I left myself starts to disappear before my eyes. Finally get to the area of the studio only to find that in the evening, parking is not so easy. Time continuing to evaporate. Finally get a spot, run to the studio and start removing layers in the elevator. Throw my stuff down outside the studio door only to hear the OMs begin. Ugh!
As quietly as possible, make my entrance and join in ("oh god, now I'm THAT person. You know. The late one). Of course, I've been running around like a maniac and my adrenaline is pumping like crazy so I sound like an opera singer with a horrific respiratory infection. Finally, I can make my way to an open space and quietly roll out my mat. As I join in the practice I'm still pealing layers (one sock, then the other, one leg warmer, then the other, now the extra shirt, now pull the hair back...) and trying to get my breath back under control.
Now as we really start to flow, since I haven't practiced in awhile I feel as though I'm either carrying an extra one million pounds or that I'm moving through mud. Everything is hard. Everything feels like it's taking more effort than I could possibly give. "Why the hell did I do this today?!" I start to ask myself.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Step the right foot forward. It takes some time, but something starts to shift.
And then the end comes. And as I bow forward to offer up my practice I remember why the hell I did this today.
And then it's time to get back in the car and drive home back to the every day.
Sound familiar? I've been to a good number of yoga classes in my life. And even the ones that, in my mind, weren't so great for whatever reason? I still feel that moment of openness, space and clarity at the end. I still feel that incredible shift that says "This is a good thing to do for myself. I should do it more often."
So then the question becomes, how do I make space in my life to get on the mat and practice?
My story above gives you a couple of strategies that may help. Let me make them more obvious:
1. SCHEDULE YOUR PRACTICE TIME LIKE ANY OTHER APPOINTMENT. This includes group classes, home practice and really, any other self care you need. If you make an appointment to go to the doctor you don't just say to yourself 10 minutes before it, "Eh. I don't feel like it today. I think I'll pass." You go. Because you've made a commitment to yourself and to that other person. What commitment could be more important than the one you make to yourself? So you have to decide, is getting to yoga an important part of your commitment to yourself? If the answer is yes than schedule your yoga appointment! I like to sit down with my calendar on Sunday evenings and look through my week and put my yoga class on my schedule. Then I know that time is "booked" and I can't schedule anything else during that time. Of course, life happens and sometimes the universe has other plans, but if you get in this habit you are much more likely to make the time you need to get yourself to class.
2. USE TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Do you have a To Do list (I love the Wunderlist app)? Maybe you put your class on your To Do list for the day or set yourself a reminder about your class. Just about everyone has some kind of alarm on their phone, computer, microwave or what have you these days. Do you find yourself rushing out the door at the last second? Set an alarm 15 min. (or more) before you have to leave. Give yourself that bit of time to wrap up whatever you were doing and get yourself out the door. In my story above I was still technically late, but I would have been a lot later if I hadn't set my alarm!
3. REMEMBER WHAT IT FEELS LIKE WHEN YOU TAKE THIS TIME FOR YOURSELF. The next time your in class and you find yourself at the end, maybe just take a moment to take a few last deep breaths and savor the feeling you have. That feeling of shift. That feeling of accomplishment. That feeling of joy and wonder at how your body has served you and how you have served it by making the time to nourish it in this most amazing way. Hold that in your mind and draw upon it the next time you just don't feel like getting off the couch. And when you do get off the couch, give yourself a little pat on the back. It isn't easy, but you did it! Good for you!!
Obviously, no one is perfect and certainly not me! I (obviously!) still have my days of struggle to get on the mat. But these little steps have made it easier for me to find the space in my day to make it happen. I hope they help you too.
Did you enjoy this article? Have another strategy that works for you that you'd like to share? Leave it in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!
See you in class!