Sometimes things come up in our lives – personal stressors, work schedules, family pressures, or just a need to take a break – and we find that we don’t go to yoga class for a while. Sometimes it’s a week, sometimes it stretches into a month, and sometimes we fall out of practice for several months or years.
Then, one day we finally muster up the time/desire/courage to get ourselves to the studio for class, after a long time away. For some people, it’s no big deal. For others, particularly those of us who put any amount of pressure on ourselves to meet certain outcomes, we are nervous to discover how much strength/endurance/flexibility we’ve lost from our hiatus. Some people even feel the need to confess to the yoga teacher, “I haven’t done yoga in X weeks/months!”
You can’t see me, but I’m smiling as I write this. Why? Because I’ve seen this so many times. More funny (to me) is that I’ve BEEN this person so many times, blurting out to the yoga instructor before class, “I’M SO SORRY I HAVEN’T BEEN HERE IN SO LONG! I’M A HORRIBLE PERSON!”
But the thing is, things come up in life. While stressful times in our lives are often when we need our yoga practice the most, the reality is that sometimes we fall out of our practice temporarily. And the only way to get back into it is to take that brave step to just start again, whether it’s been 5 days or 5 weeks or 5 years since you’ve practiced yoga. There’s truly no pressure to “be” anything, except to simply “be” – on your mat, with your breath, in your body. You’re not performing for anyone, you’re not practicing yoga to pass a test, you’re not there to do 178 chaturangas (unless you really want to).
Your only duty is to work toward being more present, whatever that means to you in the moment. Breathe and observe what’s going on in your body and mind. If you notice certain qualities about your practice that you wish were different, remind yourself to refrain from judging and to simply watch. See what you can learn from every sensation and emotion you experience.
Where we mess ourselves up, is when we expect the world (and Mars too) from ourselves when we practice yoga – especially after a hiatus. Instead, allow yourself roll with the ebbs and flows of your daily experience. And remember, whenever you’re tempted to beat yourself up after a yoga hiatus (or any exercise/wellness hiatus, for that matter), know that you are doing the best you can at all times, and that sometimes you even learn valuable information during your time away that makes your practice even richer when you return.