In developing a lifelong relationship with yoga, you’ll occasionally feel like you’re sinking in the yoga doldrums, where your practice becomes routine and dull. There’s absolutely nothing to worry about when that happens. It’s actually a really great sign that you’re ready to evolve your practice.
Notice what lights you up and bow to your inner spark.
As with any longterm relationship, remembering what first attracted you to yoga will pull you out of the slump and keep the flame alive. Here are the top 5 foundational reminders I’ve relied on to stay inspired and thriving in my practice for more than 20 years.
Reminder # 1: (Re)Connect to Yourself
It’s always worth remembering that the word “yoga” means “to yoke.” Merging, joining, fusing, connecting—all these actions are baked right into the word. We fuse many kinds of connections in yoga, but the most important one is the mind-body connection. When we’re operating at our best, it’s because our bodies and minds are working peacefully and congruently.
Mind-body harmony begins and ends with self-inquiry, the process of looking at our lives with total honesty. The deeper we look, the more we see how perfectly imperfect we are. We come to understand that the Beautiful and Ugly sides of ourselves co-exist—one side cannot be without the other. As us yogis like to say, it’s the mud that breathes beauty into the lotus flower.
Radical self-inquiry has helped me immensely over the years. It has kept me on track when I felt as though my wheels were popping of the rails. Yoga offers no quick-fix; that’s why we call it a practice. We’ve gotta keep at it. We come to value the ugly moments because they’re the soil from which inspired grace roots and blossoms.
Reminder # 2: (Re)Ignite Your Inner Spark
Yoga has opened my eyes to the beauty inside me. That’s what keeps me motivated and disciplined with my practice. Thanks to yoga, I’m inspired to GIVE on a much bigger level—to myself, my family, my colleagues, my community. Giving with my utmost integrity fills me up with aliveness.
On the best of days, before I even roll out of bed, I observe gratefulness for every single cell in my body, thanking the universe for gifting me with this life and for the loved ones in my life. On the worst of days… Well, that’s a really juicy topic. So let’s save it for another post.
With yoga, the foremost importance is to believe in yourself—your amazing divine Self. Does the word “divine” give you the jitters? Yoga isn’t religion, nor does it ask you to create or give up any spiritual rituals. Yoga is not an either/or choice; you can choose personal truth and religious/spiritual devotion. Notice what lights you up and bow to your inner spark.
Reminder # 3: (Re)Consider Success
Western culture is obsessed with success, and unchecked ambition can distort our mind-body connections. Yoga practices can be mistakenly used as another way to create further separation from body and mind if approached from the attitude of goals, achievement, competition and perfectionism.
There’s nothing to gain by simply mastering asanas. Don’t get me wrong: I love the asanas. And I love the accomplished feeling of getting into a new pose. Yet getting anywhere with any pose itself isn’t the reason I roll out the mat.
I roll out the mat to get to work. I know the word “work” heads in the direction of ambition, but I don’t mean work in the sense of accomplishment. I’m talking about softening our inner edges, which requires our focus and attention. It takes a whole lot of slowing down and breathing to let go. You could call it the work of awareness.
Awareness is the key principle behind self-acceptance. Recognizing and acknowledging who we are and what we’re experiencing at any given moment is fundamental. We come to understand, again and again, that we don’t need anything outside ourselves to reach a state of thriving.
Reminder # 4: (Re)Hear
The asanas are just a vehicle to get comfortable in the body, to hunker down and truly listen to its whispers (“Hello, Audrey? You still listening?”). The body’s murmurs can be sweet reminders to check in with your life off the mat.
How are your relationships with your family, your food, what you do for a living? Do you serve others with a generous, lighthearted spirit? And most importantly, how is your relationship with yourself? Your yoga practice gives you the answers, directly through the body.
The way you breathe within the asanas will offer the biggest clues. Some days your body will say, “Ya know, that’s enough today—please be gentler.” Other days it will guide you into a freer expression of a pose, helping you discover that, ta-da, some mental or heart block has suddenly vanished, as if by magic.
Each of our bodies has its own needs and unique ways of communicating. How does your body whisper to you? Hear what it wants to tell you.
Reminder # 5: (Re)Articulate
Yoga taught me how to tune into my inner dialogue. My shy whispers eventually grew bolder and louder, telling me I had better get out there and share my greatest gifts with the world. I’m so glad I ran with that message and have articulated it through my yoga teaching. I’ve experienced all kinds of transformations through my practice, and they’ve fueled my passion for shining a bright light on other people’s potential. Surrender to the inspirations, loves and passions that yoga continues to bring out for you. And then, to your heart’s content, share all of your thriving wonder with the world.
How do you stay inspired and maintain a Thrive mindset in your yoga practice? We’d love to hear about it!