Much like writers block, I have recently been suffering from yoga block. That feeling like I’m stuck, I can’t do my practice. For months I’ve been finding reasons not to go to yoga. Don’t get me wrong, I still love yoga deeply. It is still a great driving force in my life. As a matter of fact I’m working in a summer camp for middle school students and each day I start off by teaching a group of anywhere from 15-40 students yoga. We work for 45 minutes first thing in the morning. At the start of the program the students hated yoga. They complained and whined the entire time; through every pose. By the fourth day of the camp they were hooked. Now students fight to get into the yoga program. This excitement I see in them, as they beg to assist me in teaching, has grounded me more firmly in my love for yoga. But still I wonder; why do I miss so many of my yoga classes?
I have been attending College Park Yoga in Orlando, FL for almost two years now. There are amazing teachers and caring students that attend. The first time I walked in the studio with my best friend I knew I’d found a home. When I first began practicing I attended 3-5 times a week. At the time I was 60 pounds over weight and I was depressed on a pretty consistent basis. I could not comfortably do many of the poses but I didn’t let that stop me. I’d show up and do my practice and each time it got a little easier. My yoga instructors encouraged me, pushed me, and found ways to help me expand my abilities. Within 8 months I’d lost 40 pounds and rarely suffered the depression that had been plaguing me. Yoga literally saved me. To this day I’m not sure Lezlie, Linda, Calvin, or Theresa (my yoga instructors) know how much their time and love has meant to me.
So, knowing these things I couldn’t understand why about 3 or 4 months ago I just stopped going to class. I went two months without going to CPY and I rarely sat on my mat. Before this I couldn’t imagine missing a class. What was holding me back? I would find excuse after excuse not to go. I would tell myself when I awoke in the mornings, “tonight is yoga, I have to go.” By the time I made it home I would crawl into bed, take a nap and wake up too late to make dinner and get to class.
It wasn’t until I felt the need to go back to my doctor to refill my anti-depressants and I felt my old habits of anger surging back that I realized how much I needed to get my yoga practice back on track. I knew it was bad when I got into a shouting match with an 11 year old, in class. This verbal altercation ended with a figurative punch in the gut when the student stormed out of class, turned to me before he left and said, “real mature.” I knew I had to get back on my yoga mat, ASAP. Nothing like an 11 year old giving you a harsh reality check. I didn’t realize how important yoga had become until it was gone.
I stumbled upon part of my answer when I started reading Leo Babauta’s blog Zen Habits that I really started to understand what was going on with my “Yoga Block” and why I couldn’t seem to get myself to practice. He wrote a blog titled, “Habits: A Simple Change in Mindset Changes Everything.” In this post he talks about changing how you look at habits you’ve created for yourself. “Stop thinking of a habit as something you have to do, but as something you are allowed to do.”
This clicked with me instantly. One of the things I like about Babauta’s blog is it’s Zen simplicity. He cuts right to the heart of the matter. I had turned yoga, something I loved and needed and was passionate about, into something I HAD to do. I’m terrible when it comes to being told I have to do something. That shuts me down pretty quickly. But, when I began giving myself permission to go back to yoga, the switch flipped again.
I am not attending with the regularity that I have in the past, but I am definitely on the path to my old frequency. I may not make it to as many classes at CPY as I have in the past, but I make up for that thanks to the summer program where I’m teaching yoga. I practice right along with my students and their enthusiasm has reignited my passion for yoga.
Now that I am aware of the “why” behind my yoga block, I am using that mindfulness to ensure I don’t cut myself off from something that brings me such great joy.
What do you need to give yourself permission to do? What habit do you need to “allow” yourself to perform? Change your thinking and end your own personal blockage. Don’t talk yourself out of the rituals and activities that bring you happiness and joy. In today’s society it can be extremely difficult to find our passions. Take Joseph Campbell’s advice, “Follow your bliss!”