I have a confession to make. Last month, I went through a serious yoga rut. I was bored with my practice and I had very little motivation to get out of bed and get my butt on the mat come Saturday morning. It happens to all of us. Life gets busy, our bodies get exhausted, and there’s suddenly about a thousand other things that we’d rather do instead. But not matter how long you’ve been in your rut, don’t get discouraged! You can climb back out and get back to enjoying your practice and all the benefits it can bring to your life.
1) Mix It Up
One of my favorite things about practicing yoga is that there are an endless number of classes and styles to explore. Maybe you’ve been practicing Ashtanga for years and haven’t considered switching it up. Consider signing up for a Hatha yoga class or perhaps a hot yoga class just to get a new experience. The first time I attended a hot yoga class, I walked in feeling fairly confident about my skills and ability as a yogi. It’s safe to say I walked out of there extremely humbled, but totally blown away by what those around me were capable of. Even if exploring new classes sends you right back to your yoga roots, you’ll get a chance to push yourself and to remember why you stuck with your favorite class or style in the first place.
2) Bring A Friend
I’m someone who generally likes to attend yoga classes on my own. It’s my time to work on myself physically and spiritually; my “me time.” However, a few weeks ago, as I was stuck knee-deep in my yoga rut, a friend from college asked me if I had any suggestions about how she could get started practicing yoga. Being able to teach her about the different types of styles of yoga, what to bring to class and what to expect from her first class reminded me of how excited I was when I first started practicing. It also reminded me that yoga is something that I’m still very passionate about. Bringing along a friend can allow you to share your love for the practice with someone close to you and can revamp your excitement for rolling out your mat and getting started.
3) AM To PM
Do you usually practice yoga in the morning? That’s my favorite time to get any type of workout in because it allows me to start my day out on the right foot. But maybe you’re going through a time where your workload is heavy and you’re having a difficult time getting energized in the morning. Consider switching the time of day that you choose to practice yoga to see if it is a better fit for your mind and body. During final exams I tend to split up my at-home yoga practice, going through a short sequence in the morning to wake-up and energize myself, and then ending my day with a short-sequence intended to help me relax and turn my mind off. You may find that changing up your yoga schedule can help you gain new benefits from your practice that are better suited to your current obligations at work or at home
4) Ask For Help
My favorite yoga instructor always announces at the beginning of class that she will come around and “adjust” students during class and requests that if anyone is uncomfortable with this, to let her know. While being adjusted all the time hurt my ego a little bit during my first few classes, I quickly learned that my ego had very little place on the mat. These adjustments, even the smallest ones, usually resulted in a HUGE change in how the poses felt. A slight twist of the hips can turn a seemingly easy pose into a challenge and a goal. If you’re finding yourself bored with your practice or struggling to find purpose, don’t be afraid to reach out to your instructor. Do they have any suggestions for ways you can improve? Are there any other classes that they think you might enjoy? Have they ever experienced a yoga rut? Yoga is a community and your friends and family in this community have likely experienced similar feelings and are probably more than willing to help you move forward.
5) Take A Break
I’ll be honest. During my yoga rut, I found it easier to motivate myself to get out of bed and go for a quick energizing run, rather than roll out my mat and run through a sequence that felt like it was taking forever. I don’t even feel like I’m working out, I would grumble. So for a couple of weeks, I stopped practicing yoga. I explored other forms of fitness such as kickboxing, weightlifting and Zumba and finally felt like I was “working out” again. When I finally dragged myself back to class, I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been hit by a ton of bricks. Make no mistake; yoga can kick your butt. Maybe if you’re not giving it your all (and I wasn’t, pre-rut), it can feel boring or like you’re not getting anything out of it. But if you really push yourself and allow your body to take on new challenges, yoga can be an ever-changing, always challenging adventure. And if you do decide to take a break for a couple of weeks or even a month, you can be sure that yoga will ALWAYS welcome you back (even if it leaves you a little bit sore).