By Shanti, E-RYT 500
Imagine a beautiful garden, lush and green blooming with the fruits of your labor. Think about the time and attention it would take to not only grow the garden but to maintain it and work with it’s changing needs. Now imagine how the garden would look if it was not tended to for a week, a month, or a year. At first it might not look much different but over time the lush green would fade, the fruit would dry, and weeds would begin to take over. In many ways our yoga practice is like the garden. Without constant care and attention it too, can begin to fade and become dry.
With the hustle and bustle of life, family, children, friends, work, play, etc., sometimes our yoga practice can take the backseat. Perhaps we have just become bored or stagnant in our practice. There have been times in my life where I definitely have fallen into both of those traps and I always pay for it physically, mentally, and emotionally. A consistent and inspired practice is key in maximizing it’s benefits.
We are all creatures of habit to one degree or another. In our yoga practice it is perfectly natural to gravitate toward a style, teacher, or schedule that is comfortable to us. This can present a challenge in our practice in the sense that if we always stay in our comfort zone we might be stunting our growth. Lack of growth can mean fizzled inspiration. It is easy to lose interest if there is no excitement about progress. Our inspiration is the “key” ingredient in a consistent and growing experience. This is not to say one should always be changing styles and teachers. Consistency and routine are also important in maintaining a grounded practice.
If we want to grow, we have to accept discomfort that may come along with what we need personally for that growth. The moment we are called outside of our comfort zone we tend to begin resisting. Speaking from experience, the times that I have grown from the most have been some of the most challenging. I had to seriously fight through fear, discomfort, and resistance to come out the other side. That growth, strength, and inspiration can be like fertilizer for our practice and fuel for the challenges that lay ahead.
Applying this to our choices is fairly simple in theory. Our yoga practice should be enjoyable but also offer us an environment to investigate places we resist or feel challenged by. For example if you like to be challenged physically perhaps it would be beneficial to try a more restorative class or even a more restorative variation of a pose you typically practice with more strength. If you gravitate toward gentle yoga, maybe it is time to challenge yourself with something more strengthening or a more advanced variation of a pose you have been working on.
Does all this mean that to grow we have to practice in a way that doesn’t feel comfortable or natural all the time? No! It is more about cultivating balance. Consistently try something new. Challenge yourself to push through resistance internally and physically. This will keep you inspired, your body strong and supple, and your yoga practice alive. You will gain insights to yourself that might transform you on and off the mat.