Self-practice can be a bit like a diet – the first few days are tough, when you know all the reasons why you should be doing it, but at the same time find it difficult to relinquish old habits. Then you begin to find your rhythm, you notice it’s easier to get up in the morning, the body is more forgiving, strength slowly returns and you feel energised for hours after practice.
Enjoy this wonderful stage! In my experience, it can last for anything from a couple of days to many months, perhaps longer for some of you. Until something happens, something subtle, like a weekend, or a friend’s birthday, or a cold; something that really shouldn’t get in the way of your practice, but is just enough to disrupt the rhythm for a day or two. Suddenly you find yourself back at those first few challenging days, where it’s all too easy to wait until “mañana”.
Of course, sometimes the ‘something’ will be much larger and could be life changing: a family tragedy, a serious injury, or something positive like a new job or relationship. The result is that your practice could change, it might become quieter, more introvert, or perhaps lighter and less focused. Perhaps it will stop. But yoga will always be there for you and when it continues, it will help to ‘bring you back to you’ again.
"I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love." ~ Gandhi
I don’t have a local Ashtanga studio, and I desperately miss the Mysore classes I have experienced during my teacher training and on yoga retreats. It is hard to keep the momentum going when you feel isolated. So the time has come to be pro-active. I’m building my own yoga community! A couple of my friends, students and I now rent a small, local studio for two mornings a week, so we have a set time and day to practice together – we have made the commitment to each other, so there is much less chance we’ll miss it. In between this some of us practice at each other’s houses, or alone, inspired by what we’ve practiced together.
It’s been several months since we started and my enthusiasm (as well as that I see in my fellow yogis) is at an all-time high. Self-practice, with friends and alone, has become a wonderful treat again, not a hint of the old self-deprecatory feelings of guilt if I miss a day, as I know I’ll be back on my mat the following morning to show up for my friends as well as myself.
So my message to you, if you live out of town, is that no yogi is an island. Go build your own yoga community, share your dedication. Rely on and inspire other people, and let them inspire and rely on you.