Constant yoga practice…not so easy sometimes…

In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the sage author Svatmarama shares the following wisdom:

Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy.  Constant practice alone is the secret of success.

As I contemplate this verse I realize that lately I’ve been “lazy” in my yoga practice in many ways.  As much as I love practicing yoga and am grateful for the way it makes me feel when I do practice regularly, it seems like right now I can’t even remember the last time I rolled out my mat.  Last week?  The week before?  Last month?!?  No clue?  What the heck happened?

Well, with even the tiniest amount of contemplation, I clearly see that I’ve lost awareness and connection to a constant daily practice.  I’ve been lazy and allowed life in general, both the big and small things, to draw my focus away from the simple habit of unrolling the mat every single day. In spite of the fact that work has been insanely busy and I’m now in the midst of moving myself and family to the other side of the world (Japan, to be specific…read more below if you wish), I’ve let myself slip away from the daily habit of simply unrolling my yoga mat. This is the magic trick–unrolling the mat–that I use to make it easier to maintain a consistent practice. Looks like I’m going to have to pull this one out of the bag again.

Consistency requires overcoming both physical and mental laziness. Sometimes we avoid practice because our bodies feel too tired.  It’s just a lot easier sometimes to stay in bed for a couple more hours or indulge in a marathon session of reality TV or surf the Internet to the break of dawn.  Before we know it, these indulgences quickly become patterns and habits that pull us away from constant practice.  Mental laziness also pulls us in this direction even though we know how much better we feel with even the slightest amount of yoga practice.  There’s nothing really wrong about enjoying a marathon TV session or sleeping in, but most of the time these are just lazy decisions that we make as we chug along the path of least resistance.

Yet, any yoga practitioner knows that resistance is the key to success. We know we’re stretching our hamstrings when we feel them resisting our effort to touch our toes.  Resistance helps us grow.  But what really fertilizes our growth is how we approach the resistance.

Here are  two keys to help avoid getting bogged down in the life of laziness and least resistance:

1. Increase daily mindfulness.
2. Use that mindfulness to choose good habits.

Really quite simple.  For me, getting back in the habit of a daily yoga practice requires one thing:  Mindfully unrolling my yoga mat every single day. If I remember that one simple action, somehow I can’t help but practice at least a little bit and win the battle over laziness.

…read further if you so desire…or stop here if you could care less…since I sort of feel like getting more personal tonight…

Anyhow, like I said, life has been in a state of constant commotion for a while now.  My little family has lived in the Florida panhandle for almost three years now, but now we’re headed to Japan for three years of adventure. Just this week we basically said goodbye to nearly everything we own as the movers drove away with 10+ crates full of creature comforts.  Hopefully the slow boat to the other side of the world moves quickly since I’m already missing my Manduka Black Mat Pro.  Isn’t that just the way it is though, I’ve hardly used it for the last two months and now all I want is what I can’t have.  Life has been nothing short of exhausting as we’ve had movers in and out of the house for nearly two weeks, and now we’re finally moved out of the house and living out of suitcases until we skip town early next month. It’s gonna be a long flight with a 5 1/2 year old and 20 month old.  Wish me luck:)

I’m certainly going to miss the beautiful white sand beaches of the Florida Emerald Coast.  Even though I’ve only lived here a few years, I feel a real connection to the area, which has made the BP oil disaster feel like a dagger in the heart.  I sort of feel the same way about this catastrophe as I did right after 9-11.  Depressed, uncertain, worried, helpless, perplexed.  Honestly, for the most part, the spill has zero impact on my personal life, but this is one of those rare events that truly brings into focus both the frailty and interconnectedness of our existence.  I nearly cried when I saw tar balls rolling onto the beaches only minutes from where I live.  One can only imagine the long-term environmental and financial devastation this region will have to endure for the next few years as the tourists go elsewhere and the fishermen dock their boats.  It’s sad, but we will overcome this.

Anyhow, many thanks for reading my little yoga blog here.  I know I’ve been a bit out of the blogging scene lately, but I really appreciate all the comments and feedback I continue to receive on both old and new posts.  I’m amazed and happy when I hear that others find useful information in something I posted long, long ago.  Just remember to keep unrolling those mats….  Namaste!

9 comments

  1. Welcome to Japan!

    We have been living in beatuiful and safe Osaka for one year now. Totaly different to our country side home in Finland.

    Our two daughters, 6 and 3 years, accepted the move realy fast. You will love this culture, the food and the friendly japanese.

    Just be prepared…everybody doesn´t understand nor speak english, not even the youngsters.

    Good luck with the flight!

  2. Brian, welcome back to blogland! Sounds like a lot has been going on your end and I wish you and your family all the very best with the move to Japan. I know quite a few people that are either going for a holiday or to live and work in Japan within the next couple of months. Unfolding the mat every single day is a great idea. Whether you practice for 5 mins or 60, the simple act is sure to inspire some form of practice and a great way to start the day.

  3. good luck in Japan, it will be a great experience for you and for your family. thank you for your nice blog, I will start also a 30 days yoga challenge! all the best

  4. Thanks for the best wishes everyone! We’ve got two weeks until we get on the plane and I just sold my Cadillac, which means we are now a no car family. Should be an interesting two weeks. It’s certainly amazing how plans just seem to work out how you hope they will. Still going strong on 30 day roll out the mat challenge:)

  5. Good luck on your move to Japan, it’s one country I’m dying to visit (I made it as far as the Tokyo airport and it was enough to hook me!)….

  6. This post is very inspirational! I’ve tried to have a regular yoga practice for a decade and been sidetracked by laziness, too much work, and not enough will.

    It sounds like a great challenge “roll out the mat”….I started a site 908asanas.com with a motivating challenge in mind – to learn 908 asanas, and it has jump started me but it’s still not easy to roll out that damn mat everyday!

  7. So true! I’ve been feeling the same way and glad you wrote it and put it out there. I am motivated to get back on the horse. Thanks!! Goodluck with your move! 🙂

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