How to Re-engage our Practice when We've Neglected It

Sometimes work and life take over all the margin.  Maybe we are traveling with marathon meetings.  Maybe we've had a week of late nights.

We can skip a practice here or there to try to stay on top of it all, and then suddenly we find we've neglected our practice completely.  And we really start to miss the spaciousness and connection that yoga provides.

One of the Yoga Sutras says that to achieve what you want to achieve you have to practice "consistently, over time, without break."  However, the beauty of our practice is that it is always there for us.

We can return.

And we can do it with the smallest step.

If you find you have stepped away from your practice, here are three ways to return without being overwhelmed by trying to get back to where you were.

Remember that yoga is more than the poses.

Yoga offers tools like asana (physical poses), meditation, bhavana (intention), pranayama (breathing), and kriya (visualization) to help relieve the stress and physical ailments of modern life.

While there are benefits to each of these on a daily basis, when we've stepped away, we can return by embracing one.  Try adding in two minutes of deep breathing or starting your day by setting an intention.  Your practice doesn't have to look like anyone else.

Reconnect with your teacher.

In ancient times, yoga was passed down from teacher to student. There were variations depending on who you studied under. Here and now there are lots of yoga studios which present us with an array of teachers, but I bet there is one that you connect with the most. One that inspires you to take your practice deeper.

If you are able, schedule a private lesson with the teacher who inspires you. My teacher, Shanon Buffington and I meet for a private lesson a couple of times a year and she helps me craft my personal practice to accomplish what I want to accomplish. (As a sidebar, Shanon studies with her teacher, Rod Stryker a couple of times a year on her personal practice, and Rod studies with his teacher Panditji. I love it that a tenant of yoga is that you never stop learning.)

Buy a new prop.

For a minimalist, this may seem like odd advice, but sometimes something tangible can have big impact in inspiring us. I enjoy reading the books written by the people who brought yoga to the US. (Indra Devi, BKS Iyengar and TKV Desikachar are favorites.)  I also am easily enamored of yoga gear and jewelry.

And while yoga isn't about reading or props or trinkets, sometimes the props can make us feel more like who we want to become. Wearing a t-shirt with a lotus on it doesn't make you a yogi, but sometimes it can make you feel like one.

Remind yourself what you are missing.

For me, yoga has heightened my sensitivity to my own interior life and makes me more aware of how my thoughts, emotions and actions are in play at any given time. It has given me a framework for understanding why sometimes I feel low or get run down and has taught me how to proactively build my reserves. (For the record, I don't think yoga is the only way to achieve this, but for me it has been an effective, holistic tool set. )

Whenever I start to feel like I don't have time for my practice, I remind myself that time doesn't matter if you have enough energy.

And yoga builds our energy.

Are you out of your practice? If so, do what your heart most misses this week.

It won't be long until you are back to: "consistently, over time, without break." 

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© Yogi with a Day JobMaira Gall