As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I’m a little overwhelmed by how fast time seems to move. You put something off for a day and all of a sudden two weeks have gone by and you still haven’t completed that task. You get a job ‘just for now’ until you’ve got time to discover what it is you want to do and then it’s a year later and you’re no step closer to either having the time (because, job) or the money (it’s incredible how fast you get used to spending it once you have it), or the ideas for what to do in order to ‘find yourself’. What does ‘find yourself’ even mean anyway? I know exactly where I am – not exactly where I want to be right now, but living relatively comfortably in central-ish London.
Only two posts in the whole of January! Not the best start to the year in terms of blogging, but it could have been a lot worse. At least we’ve just had a two week break, rather than a two-month break.
One of the things I struggle with a lot at the moment is routine, and the impact it has on my productivity. Or rather, the lack of a routine that has plagued me for the last few months.
Starting something – anything – is hard. Maybe not the initial beginning of whatever it is, but when it comes to continuing, it can be difficult to keep at it. Maybe you’re not seeing results as quickly as you expected, maybe you put it off in order to do something ‘more important’, maybe you just blatantly forget about it. They’re all things I struggle with.
Before Christmas I had gotten into a good exercise routine. I’m now struggling to start one up again. It’s not that I don’t want to get fit again, it’s just that I forget about it. Exercise stopped being part of my daily routine over January – not that I had much “routine” to begin with. So I made plans of what I wanted to do each day, and then just completely forgot to look at said plans on some days and did different things on others.
The same applies to most things that I try to start doing, be that healthy eating, drawing, yoga, or writing – to name but a few. Even writing in this blog – whilst I didn’t work on it every day before Christmas, I worked on it far more than I did over January. And you know what? Writing this post now after a break is hard!
I’ve got ideas of things I want to write about, but I’m struggling to get the words down. I’ve got several draft posts full of ideas and snippets of writing that just haven’t been turned into posts yet. I know for a fact that this post is pretty badly written, it’s disjointed, it doesn’t really feel like it’s flowing. But at least I’m getting the words down. If I get this first post out, the second will come easier, and the one after that even more so.
It is well known that every journey begins with a single step. Sometimes we’ve got to focus on just that one step rather than letting the enormity of the journey paralyse us with fear and stop us from even starting. We may stumble on the first step, but the second will come smoother. Focus on one day, one step, and soon you’ll do it automatically. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.
A couple of days ago DoYouYoga.com published an article on The Cycles of Yoga Practice. The author talked about three recurring stages of yoga practice – the falling in love, the consistency, and the falling out of love.
Recently, I think I’ve been falling out of love with yoga.
I started practicing yoga consistently(ish) almost two years ago in my third year of university. Prior to then I’d dabbled once every few months or so, but for my 21st birthday I received my first ever smart phone, and a whole new world of apps was opened to me. I went on a bit of a “apps that could help me improve my life” binge, and quickly installed an app called Daily Yoga. From there I quickly got into the habit of practicing almost-daily, even if only for 5-10 minutes (which was more often than not).
Despite starting off with only very short sessions, I loved yoga. I was extremely unfit and had virtually no upper body strength, so five minutes including a minute and a half of downward dog was pretty much all I was able to do without my arms giving up. When doing the single run-through of a sun salutation using the app, you do two downward facing dogs. The first is held for thirty seconds, the second for a minute. At first, just fifteen or so seconds into the second DD my arms would be shaking, and I’d collapse soon after.
However, with commitment to practice, I gradually increased the length of time it took for me to collapse, until I was able to hold the second pose for the full minute. And I was then able to do a third, upon moving to the longer sun salutation session. When I did do a longer practice, it could easily last anywhere between forty-five minutes to an hour. These were rarer, but they did happen. I just loved what I was doing and loved feeling myself improve.
But life moves on and circumstances change, and I occasionally found myself not having practised any yoga for several weeks. Boy, could I feel it. I don’t know whether I hadn’t realised how much I was aching on a daily basis prior to yoga, or whether the pain was a new thing, but my body was not happy with me putting a stop to the practice. I was usually fairly quick to get back into practice as soon as I could.
Eight months ago I started my first full-time job, and five months ago I started working in a city two hours away from where I live. Initially I stayed in a hotel during the week, but for the last couple of months I’ve been commuting. This upheaval and change in circumstances pretty much brought my practice to a standstill, and whilst I’ve been trying recently to get back into a routine, I’ve hit a couple of snags.
Because of how infrequently I’ve been practicing yoga over the last year, in some ways I’m back to square one. I don’t maintain the flexibility I used to, and I no longer have the stamina for certain routines and poses. Having not touched the yoga app in about a year, having preferred youtube videos recently , a few days ago I went back to the five minute sun salutation. Roughly fifteen seconds into the second downward facing dog, my arms gave out.
Frustrating isn’t the word. If it weren’t for the fact that I know I love yoga, and it makes me feel better and it is immensely good for me, I’d have been tempted to give up. I certainly wasn’t tempted back on the mat. I felt like I should have been better than this, that I should be on more advanced poses, I mean, I’d been doing it for nearly two years now and…
At some point, I managed to tell my ego to shut the hell up. Yoga isn’t about how advanced the poses you can do are, it’s not about looking flawless whilst practicing, it’s about showing up on the mat. And I don’t do that. It can’t be surprising that I’m practically back to square one when it took weeks of consistently getting on the mat every single day in order to move away from that and see some “results” – whatever that means. Whilst it’s great to notice yourself improve, I also need to keep in mind that no matter what I’m doing on the mat, the very fact that I’m there makes me feel better mentally, and keeps me healthier physically.
I’d been falling out of love with yoga not because I’d been having any problems with yoga, but because I’d been having problems with myself. I need to stop caring about what I “should” be able to do, and rather than even focus on what I can do, I need to concentrate on what I am doing. With this in mind, I did a 25 minute session yesterday – another from the yoga app. I wobbled a lot. I fell over a few times. I had to keep bringing my mind back to the moment, rather than getting frustrated over myself. But I got through it, my mind settled and I felt miles better at the end of it than I had done in weeks.
The fact that I need to bring consistency into my practice is one of the reasons I decided to make yoga one of the things I regularly talk about here. Keeping you updated on my practice will help to keep me accountable, and hopefully you can take something from my practice – successes and failures both – that will help or inspire you in yours.