So you’re a yogi. You found yoga and maybe it took a little warming up to, or maybe you got hooked right away. Either way you’ve defined yourself as a yogi and made it a part of your life whether you’ve chosen to do a teacher training or not. You’ve made a home in a studio, maybe you bounced around a few places. You’ve adopted a favorite style of practicing, and maybe dabbled in other styles. You’ve logged your hours on your mat, either in the studio, in the comfort of your home, wherever it is you like to practice, and after a while maybe years of practice, you start to plateau. You lose interest, you lose inspiration; yourpractice doesn’t feel good.Maybe you sustained an injury, or life got in the way and you can’t seem to maintain a consistent practice, whatever it is. No one is immune to feeling this way. Even the most seemingly passionate yoga teachers go through periods of time when their personal practice gets stale. Yes, even full time yoga teachers feel this way.
Just like life ebbs and flows, the way we move, the way we think, the things that inspire us, that motivate us, that connect us follow that same pattern. Same goes with our yoga practice it literally does ebb and flow. It’s a no brainer that when life gets busy, usually your personal yoga practice, or whatever it is you like to do in your free time, is the first thing to get set aside. And even when life gets busy sometimes practicing on your own gets stale, or taking the same weekly class, or exclusively taking classes at the same studio. It’s OKAY to hit a wall and get a little frustrated from time to time.
I actually think that frustration is a great teacher, whether you’re a dedicated practitioner or a teacher. There’s a lot you can learn from simply asking yourself “what is even the point of all this?”
And maybe you’re angry or frustrated, or maybe you’re just bored of sun salutations and being told to “just let go.” Either way I think dedicated practitioners and yoga teachers sometimes seem to forget is that yoga is not everything. It may be a very reliable and strong guiding compass in your spiritual life. It may be your favorite way to move. To breathe. It may be the way you connect with yourself and others around you and how you make sense of life.And maybe you love yoga so much you’ve invested in teacher trainings and retreats and workshops galore. Or maybe you’ve made a career out of yoga. It’s not all a waste, far from it actually, but it’s okay to find yourself in a yoga rut. And it’s NOT at all hopeless to find yourself there.
Soooo, what do you do when you’re in a yoga rut?
1. You could try a class with a new teacher. You probably have a teacher or couple teachers you LOVE!! You totally connect with what they’re teaching and sometimes it feels like they’re speaking to your soul, or just happen to know exactly what you need. And no, maybe branching out and trying another teachers class won’t be the same, but remember you may be a little biased. Practicing with another teacher could give you a new lens. You might learn something new, gain a new perspective, or even a greater appreciation for your teacher, your practice, ect. Remember you don’t get everything from just one teacher.
2. You could try a class at a different studio. You may have a “home base;” a studio close to your home or work with classes at convenient times that fit perfectly in your life. You don’t have to leave “home base” for good, but sometimes it’s refreshing to check out another studio. It doesn’t have to be local, maybe you’re on vacation or travelling for work and find one nearby. Or you find one an hour or 2 away and make a day out of trying something new.
3. Or take a workshop. Workshops are GREAT. I love taking them, I love teaching them. Maybe you find one on a topic you’ve always been interested in, or on a series of postures that you find allusive. Workshops area great for igniting interest and re-sparking your practice. Instead of an hour, 75, or 90 minute yoga class, workshops run from 2 hours to all day depending on the content and provide in depth information you cannot get in a regular public class. They can be an insightful way of connecting different aspects of your practice and it may be all you need to dig your way out of your yoga rut.
4. Or try a new style of yoga. There are SO many different styles of yoga its overwhelming! Seriously. You may find a new style you love, or a bunch that you aren’t crazy about. You may find that switching up the way your practice creates a richer experience. Regardless, getting out of your yoga rut could mean getting out of your comfort zone and that could be as simple as trying something new.
5. Go on a retreat. A yoga vacation! It doesn’t need to be exotic or incredibly expensive, find an ashram or retreat center to stay at for the weekend. Unless an extravagant trip to Bali is calling you. GO FOR IT.
6. Take a teacher training. Dive in deeper and get a new grasp for the foundations. Practitioners you may think you know a lot about yoga but wait until you take a teacher training; you’re just scratching the tip of the iceberg. Teachers catch up on your CEU’s. Learn a new style of yoga, even if you don’t teach a regular class it’s still helpful to have different skills in your back pocket.
7. You could put on a yoga video and practice in your home.Youtube has exploded with yoga videos and there are now affordable programs like YogaGloand videos you can download. This is a great option if getting to a new class, a new studio, or taking a workshop isn’t quite what you’re looking for, or doesn’t quite fit into your schedule.
8. Or if you’ve never practiced on your own in your home you could try messing around. Be open minded and drop the notion that all the yoga you do needs to be a minimum of an hour and has to be the same experience you would get in a class. Maybe ask yourself what you really need from your practice and spend the next 10-30 minutes nurturing that. You don’t need to have a plan, just get moving and breathing.
9. Or if you regularly practice at home on your own, get to a class! See how other teachers sequence a class. Learn new techniques to explore with on your own time, and connect with other yogis! Yoga is an individual experience but also very much a community experience. Connection is a very basic human need and could be what’s missing from your home practice. Even if you can’t get to the studio regularly, popping in for a class once in a while could be just what you needed.
10. Getting yourself out of a yoga rut could be as simple as a change of scenery, maybe take your practice outside if it’s nice out! It doesn’t have to be in a tropical place, find a nice patch of grass and start moving. Or find a free yoga in the park event nearby. Not only is it a great change ofscenery but it’s free yoga and a chance to experience another teacher and maybe meet some new yoga friends.
11. Or you don’t actually have to practice yoga…maybe for a while you focus on meditating regularly, or pranayama, or journaling, or reading. And no, it does not have to be a yoga book. These can all be forms of “yoga.” Your practice doesn’t always have to be physical. But if a physical practice is what you need maybe you start running, biking, hiking, swimming, surfing, resistance training, instead of solely practicing Vinyasa yoga.
12. Let your practice evolve. Maybe you try out everything on the list. Maybe you don’t do anything at all and you just let you practice be. Like I said before everything ebbs and flows. Don’t sweat it if you’re in a yoga rut or bored with yoga or bored with your practice. Forcing your practice and forcing your interest in your practice will probably make matters worse. You may be moving onto the next chapter of your life, and you’re not any less of a yogi or a bad yogi for being honest with yourself. Maybe evaluate what your practice means to you. Maybe spend some time away from it and when you’re good and ready let if come back into your life. Like I said before, yoga isn’t everything.
While I give you a lengthy generalized list of ways you can re-inspire your yoga practice, your options are virtually endless. The point is, if and when you find yourself in a yoga rut, you don’t have to beat yourself up about it. You don’t have to deny your frustrations or your other interests. Or whatever it is that requires more of your time than your practice in any given moment. Life gets busy, and sometimes messy, and sometimes weird. The only thing is life that’s guaranteed is that change is inevitable, so soften your attachments, your frustrations, your boredom, and embrace what is.