Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pep Talk - Just Come to Class!

I recently received a message from a woman who had just returned to my yoga classes after a long absence, saying she couldn't come that day after all because of an emotional upset.  Something was going on in her family that was distressing her, and she thought it was best if she didn't come to class because she wouldn't be able to concentrate.

Unfortunately I didn't hear her message until afterward.  Otherwise I might have been able to  encourage her to come anyway, because after all, what better reason to practice yoga than to help us deal with the stresses of our lives?   And it will certainly help us focus.

When I finally did touch base with her a couple weeks later, her excuses had changed to physical problems.  Her joints hurt, she didn't feel good, she was worried about her health.  But again, what better reason to practice yoga than to give us the tools to help ourselves feel better, either physically or emotionally?

This is a repeated pattern for this woman.  I know from past experience that this is just how she works.  She has experienced that yoga is good for her (she has told me this), and I know she initially has good intentions for coming to class, but for various reasons she has never followed through for very long.

Many of us do this to some degree in certain areas of our lives, although maybe not to this extent.  It can be easy to come up with excuses to step off the path we have chosen for our own growth and self-improvement.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  

I think two underlying reasons for this self-sabotage are feelings of discomfort stemming from:
  1. Our fear that we really won't be able to accomplish what we set out to do - that we won't live up to our own expectations (or the perceived expectations from others) of how well we think we should be doing.
  2. That it will take more effort than we are willing to put in to see results.  We want to avoid hard work.
There's also a fear for some people that they will hurt themselves, or at least be very sore after class.  That's a valid concern, and we can work with that.   I can encourage you to ease up on what you're doing so you won't be likely to injure yourself or to be as sore.

We unconsciously find excuses to avoid the discomfort of hard work or the fear of not succeeding,  or the fear of being in physical pain, and that gets us....absolutely nowhere.

Yes, it does take disciplined effort to practice yoga, and you may not accomplish what you initially envisioned for yourself.   But if you study and practice in a setting that is appropriate for your level of health and fitness, you will soon start to feel the benefits of this powerful practice.   You will feel stronger and more energetic, and better able to deal with whatever physical, mental, or emotional stresses are going on in your life.  Most of you have felt this if you've been practicing for awhile.

There are good reasons for not coming to your yoga class.  You might be recently injured or sick, or recovering from a serious illness, or there might be some emergency that you need to deal with, and you really do need to step back for awhile until things quiet down.   If you are already a seasoned yoga practitioner, I hope that during these times you take care of yourself with some quiet restorative practice sessions (including pranayama).  That will help you get through your difficulties.

But if you often make excuses for not coming, take a harder look at your reasons.  Are they really valid (and ultimately only you can make that decision), or are they ways to get you "off the hook" for  doing the work that is necessary for growth in this area?  You might ending up deciding that your avoidance really means that the classes you're taking just aren't working out for you at this time.  I hope you can find another path, whether it be in another yoga class or a completely different discipline that works better for you.  On the other hand (and this is what I hope happens), maybe you'll decide that it's time to stop making excuses and start regularly joining us again in yoga classes!  You'll be happy you did, and I'll be happy to see you again!

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