Too busy to practice and other excuses why we resist the mat
It’s really hard to commit ourselves to an ashtanga yoga practice. Let’s face it – it’s really hard to commit ourselves to anything that will be good for us. Anything worthwhile takes grit, determination and a whole lot of discipline. Saving money, eating well, studying, exercising – all really hard work. But always worth it. “I really regret saving money”, said no-one ever. We never regret a yoga practice either. The hardest part is the thinking about it before hand.
From the book “Do The Work’ by Steven Pressfield, he talks about resistance being our enemy. Resistance comes in many forms : fear, self doubt, procrastination, addiction, distraction, ego, perfectionism, laziness. There are many activities that bring up resistance, some of these (but not limited to) are the pursuit of anything to do with improving your health, any program of spiritual development, any activity to do with giving up a habit are just to name a few. Why, when we know that something is good, do we resist and make up every excuse under the sun to explain away that resistance?
I’m part of a small blogging group of women who get together roughly around once a month to talk about blogging, give each other feedback, set ourselves challenges and actually blog. The thing is, I love blogging. I love writing. I never thought I would enjoy it so much but I get such a kick out of thinking about topics, crafting a post with my ideas and putting it out in the world. I don’t even mind if no one reads it. Of course it’s great when people do but I enjoy the process of getting my ideas together and watching it unfold. I feel so satisfied when I hit publish and then see my words up on the screen.
I have lots of ideas and I am quite opinionated about things I am passionate about, so to have a place where I can put that out there is exhilarating. But, it’s always the last thing I do. I resist by procrastinating, so when it comes to writing I will always find something more ‘important’ to do. It’s funny, I was inspired to write a post about excuses after reading an article about the same topic in a magazine and all I have done is make excuses for writing it! In the same fashion, I hear so many excuses from people (and even more from myself) about why we cant, won’t, and don’t practice yoga.
So I thought I’d share some of the most common excuses I hear (and come up with myself) and my response to those excuses in the hope to help you get on your mat and feeling good.
(the intention here is not to offend or make light of anything. It’s just to call you out if you are getting in your own way.)
I’m too busy – we all are. I would say 99% of the time when I ask anyone who comes to the studio how they are, they reply “Busy”. If you truly want to show yourself that you are important, then prioritise your health and wellbeing. No one else will. I know it’s hard to get a baby sitter and get out of the house sometimes but you can practice some simple postures, meditation techniques, breathing exercises at home for less than 15 minutes a day.
It’s really hard to practice at home – that’s why we have yoga studios, because it’s way easier and a lot more fun when you go to a beautiful sanctuary without any distractions.
I tried it once and I was really sore the next day – of course you were sore. You probably haven’t stretched since highschool when the P.E. teacher made you do it after high jump practice. The secret is…..more yoga = less soreness.
I didn’t like the teacher – find another one. There are so many teachers, styles, studios out there now. Find one that you LOVE!
Isn’t it just stretching? – where have you been? Surely by now there has been enough out there in the media that you know it’s waaaaaay more than that?
I’m not a hippy – neither am I. I was an accountant for 12 years!!! You don’t need to be a hippy to want to learn how to move with intention, breathe better and reduce your stress.
I’ve got a lot of sh!t going on in my life right now – We all do. Lots of sh!t. But we need to take responsibility for that and take action to sort it out. I sort so much stuff out in my head during practice I wish I could record my thoughts sometimes. I have the difficult conversations, I problem solve, I figure things out. Mainly, I realise that a lot of what’s in my head is simply not true. Of course you need time to grieve and go super easy on yourself in extremely difficult times but you don’t want that grief/worry/stress/anxiety to get stuck in your body either. Start sooner rather than later.
I’m too tired – I was woken up every night every 2 hours to breastfeed Elsie for 16 months straight and she still won’t go to sleep until after 9:30pm … I know what tired is. And I know on the days I practice some form of yoga in those really dark times, I feel better, I can cope better and have slightly more energy.
I don’t have the right gear – You don’t need shoes. Most studios have mats to hire. Wear a pair of shorts and a singlet. Do it at home in your PJ’s. You’ve got the right gear.
I need to lose weight first – if you don’t feel comfortable to go out to a yoga studio just yet, then there are plenty of classes online to try. Or find a teacher you trust and have a connection with, and have some private classes first to build your confidence. A good teacher should hold the space so well so that there is no room for any ego or competition and everyone should feel welcome and comfortable.
I won’t know what to do – you take guitar lessons because you don’t know how to play the guitar. You go to French class because you don’t know how to speak French. You go to yoga class so you can learn how to practice yoga. It’s called yoga practice not a yoga perfect. Stop trying to be good at everything. There is no competition in yoga. It’s about feeling really really really good. And if the place you practice in cultivates a culture of ego and competition then find another place to practice. A big part of the ashtanga yoga system is parampara – respect for the lineage and the teachers before you that have been down the road you are travelling on. Having a teacher and trusting them to show you the way is awesome.
I’m waiting for the right time – the right time was yesterday.
I can’t afford it – I totally get that sometimes the class fees are expensive. Studios have to pay rent, electricity, the teacher and so on, so they need to charge accordingly. But there are teachers out there teaching in parks that have no overheads so should be a little less pricey. Also, there are classes in community and church halls that also shouldn’t have the overheads that a studio has. A lot of gyms now have yoga classes included in their membership. And there’s plenty of free online resources out there. I wrote a post about my fave online resources here.
I’m too old to do it – I don’t think you are ever too old for anything. Age is a state of mind. Some of my students are in their seventies and they rock my world! If you are in your golden years, just by being there and doing your best you are inspiring everyone around you, especially the young ones.
I’m injured – most people are at some point. We are human and we get hurt. I’ve broken both my arms and dislocated a wrist in a car accident. Yoga fixed them. I’ve sprained my back and could hardly move. Yoga fixed it. I’ve had a shoulder impingement from breastfeeding. Yoga fixed it. Sciatica from giving birth. Yoga fixed it. Ganglion in my wrist after dislocating it. Yoga fixed it. Funky hip. Yoga fixed it. The right teacher will have experience and knowledge to know how to modify so you can still benefit from practice. Whatever your injury or illness, there is a practice out there that can be beneficial.
I’m not flexible enough – lamest excuse ever! That’s like saying I’m too hungry to eat!
I just don’t want to – OK this is totally valid. No worries. See you round like a rissole 😉 But if one day you decide you’d like to again, then yoga will welcome you back with open arms and so will I.
Bottom line is….Stop resisting. Stop the excuses. Start where you are. Find a class, get on your mat and go! Or if it’s been a while, go back!