“A mind free from all disturbances is Yoga.” The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Like many yogi’s can relate to, a 30-day yoga challenge can be transformative. It takes true mental determination to practice for 30 consecutive days. The intense focus is truly remarkable. For me, the sense of accomplishment felt like nothing else I’d ever experienced. There's growth in pushing limits; seeing how far we can push past our minds. Our minds LOVE to talk us out of things.
I always say that the hardest part of my yoga practice is getting off of the couch.
I did a 30-day Bikram yoga challenge last summer, and it was truly transformative in showing me that I am in control of my mind, not the other way around. Since then, I’ve done a few 20-day challenges, and was very enthusiastic about beginning my second 30-day challenge. I hit the ground running, but my body had other plans. By day 19, I was sick. I had fever, chills, I was achy and just couldn’t go to yoga. I had full intentions on doubling up but after a few days out, I realized that I could not finish the challenge. I was devastated. I actually felt depressed, like a failure, like …less of a yogi, somehow. I ended up not going to yoga for a whole month because my body just didn’t feel like it was “yoga ready”. Maybe that’s not true. Maybe I was in a rut. Maybe I was making excuses for myself. Maybe I just didn’t feel like going to yoga for a while.
I got to thinking about my practice and why I love yoga so much.
Remembering Why We Practice
Yoga helps to raise our vibration. We move. Energy flows. We focus. We focus on ourselves, our bodies, and learn to silence our noisy thoughts. Our focus in life determines our reality- what we focus on determines what “is”.
What if our focus is on practicing yoga, but not on being a vegan? What if our focus doesn't involve organic raw foods or a plant based diet? I drink wine on Friday evenings (and sometimes on Saturday), I’m not a vegan and I eat meat. I don’t care to become a vegan and never even think about it. And I gave up on my challenge. Am I not fitting the bill? Am I not what yoga is looking for?
Are we less dedicated to our practice, less affected by the transformation in our hearts and minds that our practice brings if we don’t fit a certain model of what a “yogi” is? Absolutely not. It becomes a slippery slope to create pre-requisites (even if we don’t say them out loud) for a “spiritual” person. Its an ego trap. There’s freedom in honesty, authenticity, and there’s wisdom in that freedom. Remembering what drove us to practice yoga in the first place is an awareness we must always try to come back to. For some, we sought a quiet mind, a peaceful heart, and a healthy body.
The Relationship Connection
During my yoga break, I began to be plagued by all of these internal inquiries and doubts. Had I fallen out of love with my yoga practice? I was living and breathing yoga for so long. Could I have… lost interest? What does that mean? Who am I? I realized that I’d developed such an attachment to the challenge, my practice, and this whole idea of being a “yogi” (or aspiring to be one). I began to question my own motives for even practicing. Was I so attached to results, to ideas, to my... self? Attachment leads to suffering. Hadn’t I learned anything?
Just like in any relationship... There's that space in the middle. That space where nothing exciting happens. You know each others stories, you know one another’s idiosyncrasies, there’s comfortable silence, and the butterflies have become slow steady flutters. So, had I fallen out of love with my practice? No.
Returning to my practice was like that feeling one gets when you return home from vacation. It was great to be away, but there really is no place like home. Just as in our relationships with others, we must remember what brought us together; the foundation that’s been built, and our capacity for growth.
The beauty of a solid foundation and commitment is that we can begin again. In each moment, we can begin again.
Awareness and non- judgment are key. If fueled by intrinsic interest, we will always come back to center and that includes learning to rest...deliberately. In a relationship we learn that a sure fire way to suck the romance and excitement out of it is by beating the connection to death, spending every waking moment together until you become parts of a whole. Be who you are. Be authentic. Allow breathing room. Then, watch the relationship flourish beautifully in the freedom of space in togetherness. Suddenly, there are stories to tell again, dynamic communication, laughter, epiphanies.
Letting Go Of Who We Think We Are
So, who was I challenging? Myself. The self can be a dangerous concept. We get so wrapped up in this idea of who we think we are.
Who are we? We're beings of love vibrating at a certain frequency and attracting other vibrational matches that resonate with ours, whether it is yoga or a new friendship.
Yoga is in my heart. It helps bring me back to center, helps me to remember… to remember that I am love, I am whole, and I am all I will ever need. It is a tool to open my heart to myself and others. It brings me to a state of bliss.
When we feel bliss, we are remembering our true nature. We long to remember.
Yoga is part of the whisper of my soul-sometimes it roars. My body, mind, and soul long to go back to bliss.
Abandoning my challenge does not make me a failure or less of a yogi. This experience of releasing my grip on who I think I am, letting go, and taking a break helped me step into the awareness that my practice is truly part of me. It’s always waiting to be discovered and explored.
There may be times that my focus must shift. That’s ok. Like any solid relationship, yoga and I have our quiet moments, even some boring moments, but we’re a great match.