We all know that yoga is a transformative magical practice that makes us feel fantastic. But sometimes your couch is just so appealing and the walk or drive to the yoga studio just seems too wet and cold. Then a few months later it’s so sunny and nice out that you decide to just stay at the beach rather than go home and practice. But you love your yoga practice and want to make it a priority, so how do you avoid burn out and get on your mat?!
My teacher Sharon Gannon always says that the hardest part is getting on your mat. She’s right! Once you’re there and start breathing and moving, it feels good. And then you want to do a bit more and a bit more, until, ta-da, you’ve done your whole practice! Now part of fighting burn-out and keeping yoga as a sustainable life-long practice is rethinking what your whole practice might be. As an Ashtanga practitioner, there’s a whole sequence you’re meant to get through. But what if you let there be a little flexibility in that? If it keeps you practicing rather than giving up, maybe you do need a day or two where your whole practice is a little less. You also need to watch this and make sure every day doesn’t become a little less. Same thing with days off, a day off a week is essential (plus moon days and ladies holidays) and taking an extra day off occasionally might be a great thing to keep you feeling grateful for your practice. However, giving yourself too much time off just means you lose the rhythm of your discipline and it’s easier and easier to just not practice. So, spice it up! Go a little easy sometimes and let that temper your regular disciplined routine.
Speaking of routine, this is something you might find helpful. As a Jivamukti Yoga teacher, I initially started practicing Ashtanga because it was nice to just submit to a method and practice a sequence that was already established. I felt that if I made up my own sequence, my practice shifted into class planning and I kept thinking of class sequences or what might benefit which student. I also found that some practices I would really dive in and do a zillion backbends and all these advanced postures and then other practices I just wanted to lay on the floor and do supine twists. So I found a little balance and ‘me-time’ by practicing Ashtanga. I just had to submit to the method and that was it! I found it relaxing to know Fridays are Primary series days, end of story! While Ashtanga isn’t for everyone, if you’re a self-practitioner consider practicing a set sequence periodically just to free yourself from coming up with your own practice. Or at least set yourself a schedule of days you always take off and days when you always practice in a particular way, ideally at the same time each day. If you’re a studio goer, you are already lucky enough to have a teacher coming up with your sequence. So put classes into your calendar the way you would a doctor’s appointment and just always attend that class. It’s easier to get there if it’s an established part of your routine.
One more idea, treat yourself! Go to that yoga workshop with the inspiring teacher you want to see, get new yoga leggings, burn a scented candle, go to your favorite studio and your favorite teacher even if it’s a little more expensive. Acknowledge how special your yoga practice is and let it be a part of your life that is a really nice, nourishing routine.