September 03, 2015 Anna Judd


Hey Anna,

I'm in a yoga funk. I have an unlimited monthly pass to an awesome studio 10 minutes from my house. They have classes at times I can definitely make (and used to!) at least 4x a week. But I'm experiencing yoga... apathy? I love the feeling I get when I go to class. I wake up and plan on going to class. I hit snooze, and tell myself that I'll go when I get home from work. I get home from work, and get wrapped up with something else, and then it turns into "I will go tomorrow", and the same thing happens. I know some of y'all have experienced this... what's your best motivational advice to get back in a weekly groove? Any good quotes I can put up on my fridge to get me out of the "I'll do it tomorrow" mindset?

From a struggling yogi, please help! :)

 

Dear Struggling Yogi,
Wow. I totally relate to your yoga apathy. I, too, have the best intentions. Really. They are off the charts, as evidenced by my epic to-do lists, which are often color coordinated, and in outline form. I shit you not. So please, take this advice with a grain of salt, as it's not coming from someone who has mastered herself, and is very much a novice spiritually.

 

Personally, I think that you should see this inner resistance as an essential part of your practice. Meeting with obstacles head-on and conquering them helps us develop spiritually into strong, badass, centered yogis and conscious human beings. In this case, it sounds like it's time to recommit yourself. Commitment to anything (a yoni egg practice, a yoga practice, a relationship, a project)  is shown through consistency and discipline. Consistency is the road to discipline, and discipline helps support consistency, sort of like how muscle groups support each other and enable to you lift enormously heavy objects.

Usually, in my own life at least, when I do not want to do the things that are necessary to take care of myself (both physically and spiritually) it is because I am choosing anxiety, or worrying about the future, over being involved in the present moment. If I have a lot on my mind, or a lot of my plate, I spend so much time thinking of "solutions" (which usually involve doing lots of things, and accomplishing more) that I actually have no time left over to do much of anything. So what do I do? I write another to-do list. Rinse, repeat. 

Sounds like you are in the same boat.

So. Breathe. Calm Your mind. Quiet the chatter. Choose action. Drag yourself to yoga. This is an exercise in habit building, in taking small steps towards goals, instead sprinting around in circles, looking for hidden shortcuts. And what's a shortcut in life? To where does it go? Being the best? Looking the best? I mean, come on. (So you know, I'm mostly talking to myself at this point.)

There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

No matter how advanced you become in your practice, you are always going to have more to learn, and you will always be encountering new obstacles. Newsflash: The closest you will ever get to being the best, or getting there, is realizing that there is no best, and that there is actually here. As in, now. Not tomorrow.

Hence, in yoga, the pot of gold appears when you realize that it is right in front of you. Or rather, that you are swimming in the pot of gold, or rather, that you are the pot of gold.

It's finding that edge, the balance between what is and what could be, and staying there.

It is finding that moment of clarity where you are fully inhabiting your body and completely in control of your mind. It is hard work, but it's the best kind of work, and when you do it, it makes all the other obstacles you face during the day seem easy.

What helps me when I'm going through this is having a conversation in my head between the child within me (the one who doesn't want to go to yoga) and the adult (who knows that it's the best thing in the world). It's a very civil conversation where the adult and the child come to an amicable agreement about a reasonable commitment. The adult promises not to set the goal too high, and the child agrees to honor the commitment. It's a compromise.

I think that making sure to set reasonable goals (and make reasonable commitments) is one of the most essential parts of building discipline, commitment, and a foundation of happiness in your life. If you set your goals too high, or over commit (even if the commitment is only made to yourself, and no one else knows about it), and you fall short, then you start to lose trust in yourself.

Seriously, think about it.

If you had a friend who would promise to meet you for yoga, and only showed up 40% of the time, would you trust her to be there in the morning?

Would you stop taking her seriously? Why should the promises that you make to yourself have any different effect? Because you can justify them? The truth is, if you make promises and don't keep them, you will stop trusting yourself, which is essentially giving up your power as a creator of your own destiny. This will inevitably lead to: first, expecting that you won't succeed, and then, you won't be giving your best effort, because whats the point? You'll feel that you don't have control over your own actions, much less your own destiny. 

So, yeah. Check yourself. Set the bar high, but not too high.

I'm personally working on this with myself, which is why your troubles deeply resonate with me. I'm very much like a child in this way. I believe that I can make myself do anything, set a goal that greatly exceeds my ability, and inevitably disappoint myself. Over and over again. Why? Because I hold myself to superhuman standards, and then when I don't do something perfectly, no success short of reaching my insanely impossible goal will make me feel that I've done a good job.

Don't do this to yourself. It sucks.

I try to remember to treat myself with love. I know, you just threw up in your mouth a little. You're likely as tired of hearing that as I am, especially if you are in the "yoga scene". So, to avoid using obtuse, ambiguous cliches, I'd like to describe exactly what loving oneself means. 

In my experience, treating myself with love involves taking care of myself and owning my shit, but it also means being gentle, too. Being a compassionate parent to myself, one who encourages instead of criticizes has been the most crucial part aspect. This means that I make sure the narrator of my experience (ie my internal monologue) is not some commandant with a whip and a sadistic streak, but a friendly, encouraging voice.

For example, I know its a bad idea to sign up for a 30-day challenge when I'm having trouble getting to yoga twice a week. I know myself. I will blow my whole load at once, and then burn out. It won't be pretty, either.

So, I try to commit completely to a reasonable goal, and make it a priority. I don't expect any results, except for the satisfaction that comes from having integrity. Thats a fuck-load of satisfaction, by the way. If I'm having trouble getting to yoga twice a week, then I'll make that my goal, and when I reach it, the success from meeting that goal will propel me to do it three times a week, and then maybe four. And then I'll be a highly-desirable yoga supermodel who is more enlightened than Jesus Christ himself, who will have the wisdom and the drive and the ability to save the entire human race, and then, finally, I'll be good enough. Sorry, my ego stole the keyboard for a second there. 

The point is, you can only take one step at a time, and all of those steps add up to the transformation and actualization that so many of us are looking for. No shortcuts. No shoots and ladders.

As Bill Murray says in What About Bob, "Baby steps."

Baby steps, turn off alarm.

Baby steps, put feet on the floor.

Baby steps, get out of bed.

Baby steps, go to yoga.

 

 

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