The Yoga Slump: Every practitioner knows it – even your favorite teacher. You begin going to yoga, you love the way you feel after class, you see positive changes in your mood, your body, your outlook on life, and you start attending class pretty regularly. Then something happens – maybe a holiday, injury, fatigue -- where you are unable to make it to class. Suddenly, you realize, one missed class has turned into a few weeks absent on your mat. And as much as you want to get on your mat, you find yourself unmotivated and lacking the discipline to get-up and go to class. Most often what happens at this point is a bit of self-berating talk until, finally, you do make to class where that feel of rubber in your downward-facing dog feels so darn delicious you wonder what took you so long to return. The yoga slump is natural. The most important thing is that you do return back to your mat…and you almost always will. The yoga slump is an organic part of our own innate rhythm. We all have rhythms, flows, and cycles we live our life around. On the gross physical level, you live with your breath cycle of inhale and exhale, the circadian rhythms of sleep and wake, and the movement of blood through your body. On a subtle level we follow the cycles of sun, moon, and the season. In yoga class, we cycle through sun salutations, posture flows, and our own thought patterns. Whether you are conscious of it or not, in yoga class (no matter the style of class) there is a rhythm occurring: you are moving up and down, going within and branching out.
In accordance to these on-going cycles, often we unknowingly move away from yoga to renew our passion for it. We can blame it on an injury, unexpected life event, or laziness but we are responding to a natural rhythm. We must withdraw like the earth in the winter, the sun at dusk, and the new moon. The yoga slump is a time to renew our dedication for yoga by stepping off our mat. We replenish our passion for yoga by taking time to notice how we feel without yoga in our lives. We restore our commitment to our mind/body connection when we experience our lives and how we feel without a regular practice of yoga. No matter how bright a light shines at first, if you never dim it, the bulb will burn out.
When you do find yourself in the yoga slump instead of belittling yourself, here are some options to get yourself back on your mat:
1) Schedule the date and time of the next class you are going to go to and no matter what, get there. And until that class, RELAX.
2) Get into a downward dog at home or into one of your favorite poses. Slowly ease your body back into yoga and then refer to #1.
3) If you really need some motivation, set a date with a good friend to attend your favorite class.
4) Change your routine – try a new time or different teacher.
5) Feeling fatigued, tense or too stressed to move? Try a yin or restorative class.
Most importantly, relax. Yoga is not primarily about the asanas, the physical poses, but yoga is always about a mind/body/spirit connection. You can best attain yoga by resting, breathing, and honoring where you are. When you do find yourself back in class, you may notice that you feel refreshed, renewed, and with a deeper appreciation and awareness of your own mind/body connection.