I am passionate about self-practice; both keeping my own going, as well as supporting others to develop and own their personal yoga. The reality for many yogis, is that life gets in the way of self-care and valuing the commitment of a yoga practice. In workshops that I have run on this topic, it feels connecting to hear that many people struggle with their commitment of getting on the mat. The list that we write up together on the white board is often very long. From kids, partners, pets, devices, emails, travel, too hot, too cold, not having the right space or support, simply not feeling like it and that universal excuse, a perceived lack of time: all these circumstantial or outer obstacles, and more, will inevitably appear.
Yet if we come into a dialogue around these hurdles, from an attitude of welcoming, it may be the place from which practical and psychological solutions can develop to get us on track again. It can be useful to reflect on what stops you getting on the mat as a daily practice and there’s an invitation from me for you to do that here at the bottom of this blog.
And it’s not just modern life that’s getting in the way of us connecting and committing to practice. Patanjali identified 9 obstacles (sutra 1.30) some 2000 years ago, showing that even once you’ve gotten rid of your phone from your practice and the kids are occupied and you’ve made time to get on the mat, there are mental or inner obstacles that are hardwired to put you off! These include illness/disease, apathy or fatigue, doubt, impulsivity or carelessness, physical exhaustion (sometimes labelled as laziness), overindulgence, clinging to limiting beliefs, losing focus and loosing sight of the goal or point of the practice. Patanjali goes on to offer many suggestions on how to deal with the distractions including practical approaches such as focusing on the outbreath; finding an object of enquiry that interests you; developing a wider perspective as well as noticing how you are engaging your senses with the outer world. Most importantly the sutras recommend developing a yogic attitude to respond to the people and situations unfolding around you that may become part of the distractions: happiness towards the friendly, compassion towards the suffering, empathic delight towards the pure and impartiality towards the impure.
Reflecting on the state of your self-practice at the moment is an ongoing inquiry that will keep you coming up with your owns solutions and insights and allow your practice to be responsive to your ever changing life circumstances and situations. I would highly encourage that you regularly check in with this question:
What stops me from getting on the mat as a daily practice?
Please feel free to share below. I would love to hear what gets in the way for you as a starting point for what you might put in place to move through any current obstacles.
The next question might be:
What could I put in place to reclaim my practice?