What to do when you don't feel like practicing
We all know this feeling… You go to bed, and you promise yourself that you are going to practice the next day. You go to bed with that intention, a smile on your face and fully committed to your practice.
The next day…
You wake up, and all the good intentions from the previous evening are gone. Believe me, this happens to all of us. :) Being lazy or just not in the mood of practicing is something many people who are new (or not) to yoga struggle with. What often happens next is that you postpone your practice and tell yourself you’re going to practice in the evening.
What an exhausting day you had! No way there’s any energy left for some time on the mat. Let’s face it: You were busy all day, it was a hard day at work, your boss was in a bad mood, something didn’t work out as you planned it… Yes, tonight is a bad time to practice. But tomorrow, you promise to yourself that you’ll practice in the morning! First thing! You go to bed, with that intention, a smile on your face and fully committed to your practice.
The day after…
I don’t think I need to go on further what will happen, right? ;) That is the beginning of a cycle that can develop into neglecting one’s practice for a while and then be sad if the wished results are not coming. Again, I know this so well, been there for a long time. But, more than talking about the problem of neglecting one’s own practice, how is it possible to establish a regular, committed practice that brings us joy and relaxation? It’s all about the mindset and the time you are willing to spend for your well-being.
Keep it regular
Establishing a regular practice is - I would say - the most difficult part when becoming a yogi. We have so many things to do, our days are short and filled with To-Do-lists, appointments, work, social life, etc., that there is usually no time to fit in yoga. Yoga is something that makes us feel good, and that helps us to relax and see clearly. It’s a time for self-reflection. We go inwards to learn more about ourself. It is a nourishing time. But it is not as important and definitely not a priority if we see all the loads of work we have to do. Well, that’s a t least what we think and where is the problem.
Yoga begins in the mind!
Many times, we focus on the outside world, of fulfilling our duties, exceed at our jobs, or meet our friend who needs our help. That’s all fine and laudable. What we often forget, though, is making time for ourselves. We prioritize everything around us over us. Consequently, our asana practice becomes secondary, or even tertiary. Making time for ourselves seems selfish, and being selfish is not considered as worth striving for. First, we have to be there for others and satisfy the needs and wishes of the outside world. Only then can we be “selfish” and do something for us.
Prioritize your needs over the needs of others!
Here lies the mistake and the main cause of neglecting one’s practice. Besides being lazy, which - yes, also here! :D - happens of course, neglecting one’s own needs and health can be crucial for our performance of other tasks. Changing our mindset towards prioritizing ourselves is the first step to a long-lasting, regular practice. If we do not have this in our minds, how can a practice evolve? If we don’t make time for our well-being, how do we expect to feel good? It’s all up to us.
Firstly, adjust your mindset to prioritizing yourself. That’s the main thing. Make time for yourself and do not feel bad or guilty. Yoga helps you to feel good, and it supports your performance and your well-being. So, why not prioritizing this if it improves your overall life?!:)
If you got the right mindset, think about how much time you would like to spend for yourself and HOW you want to spend it. Don’t forget, yoga does not only mean asana (physical) practice. It is so much more than that! You can practice meditation, or pranayama (breathing exercises). Setting an amount of time per day/week can help to commit to your practice.
After that, try to really stick to the times you set for yourself. Remember, it is your time, it is your wellness time, something you do for you! Celebrate that time. It is something many people do not have the luxury of. You take that luxury and do something that gives so much back to you. How amazing is that?
After your practice, thank yourself for taking the time to nourish yourself. This will help to build a positive feeling towards your practice. We love being rewarded for something we did. You can also reward yourself! I mean, why not? You did great, you can acknowledge that to yourself. :) Repeating this will help you a lot to practice, even if you do not feel like it. Don’t expect that you have to perform during that time. Asana practice means going inwards and reflecting on oneself.
Here are some more tips for establishing a regular practice: Set a specific time during the day and really stick to it Act intuitively when practicing; if you don’t feel like asana practice, practice meditation or pranayama, or read the yoga sutras… anything that enables and nourishes your practice will be fine, because it also nourishes you.
Reflect on your feeling of not wanting to practice!! I can’t stress that enough. Is it because you are just lazy? Are you in pain? Are you feeling emotionally overwhelmed? Are you sick? Are YOU your priority?
Try to lose all expectations towards your practice. It doesn’t matter if you cannot do the splits today. It’s also ok to go easy on yourself. Don’t expect that you have to perform during that time. Asana practice means going inwards and reflecting on oneself. Don’t compare yourself to others! You do not need to be as flexible, as cool, or as good as others. Yoga is an individual practice, this is YOUR way.
Keep a diary with you while practicing. Oh, I love to write down how I feel during practice! It is so healing and will definitely help you to practice more regularly. Getting it out of your head and into your notebook is so empowering while practicing. Try it out, it is really good. ;)
Forgive yourself if you do not stick to your plan. A plan is good, but it should not define your commitment towards yoga. Your willingness to get time for yourself should be the base. And sometimes, there are some things that have to be done and that have no time to be delayed. That’s fine, no worries. The key here - again - is to reflect on the reasons why you didn’t practice. :)
Practice with others! Having a partner, or a friend, or a studio where you can practice is amazing. Even if you have a favorite teacher on YouTube is fine. Everything that helps you to make time for yourself is good and should be used.
Keep track of your practice. If you wish to achieve some posture, or manage to remember a sequence you build or a given sequence, you could note it down. It can be what you practiced, how far you came, and if you achieved your wish. This can also be motivating if you are the more productive type.
Get in touch with more yogis. Surround yourself with people who share the same interest. Talking about it will give it more priority and and also motivate you more. Again, don’t be too hard on yourself. It takes time to establish a new habit, let alone to adapt to a new lifestyle. Start small, and build up gradually. I hope, you could find and answer to the question why you don’t feel like practicing and some tools to motivate yourself during that time.
Let’s do one more thing before you go…
Imagine, you go to bed late, and you promise yourself to practice the next morning. Fully committed, with a smile on your face, and ready to wake up and practice the next morning, you fall asleep.
The next morning…
You wake up, get out of bed, and slowly start your day. You’re excited for the morning, because mornings mean self-time, time before a new and exciting day awaits you. You take your journal and a pen, get to your mat, and start your day. Today, you’re not really in the mood for a strong physical practice, so you turn on some music, get onto your mat and start with slow movements. In between, thoughts come up what you have to do during the day. You write them down. Out of the head, out of the mind. Gradually, you wake up and warm up, so your mood changes. You feel like practicing a bit more now. You start with sun salutations and go on to a nice flow. Whenever a thought comes, you write it down. “It’s ok”, you tell yourself, “I am going to have a busy day, but now I choose to make time for myself.” You finish your practice with a nice Savasana and five minutes of meditation.
You get ready for the day, being more aware of all the things you have to do. The day goes on and you are able to manage your day effortlessly. It’s a busy day, full of tasks, and your boss is not in a good mood. Also, you have to do some extra meetings, and you forgot about that one mail you had to write already yesterday. It is okay though, because you prepared already in the morning for the day, so you do not feel as overwhelmed as usual.
You come home, take a bath, read something, and feel good about the day. Despite it being busy, you did everything you wanted or had to do. It was an exciting day. You go to bed, thinking about how much you enjoy the practice and that the day tomorrow starts again with some self-time. With a big smile on your face, you fall asleep…
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