As we head into the last calender month of 2012 and the Christmas (silly) season, for many people this time of year can be frazzling as the weather and social-calendar hots-up - and the healthy habits and positive lifestyle choices we've worked hard to establish during the year get traded-in for momentary pleasures, often one after another. Indeed, when it comes to yoga practice, it can feel like we're dragging ourselves to the yoga mat! And some don't drag, they don't even make it.
As a yoga teacher living in the world, not only do I watch with interest my own mind and the distractions that plague it at this time of the year - the temptations to have a late night, to over-socialise, sleep in or to eat more that I need to - I watch how students are impacted too. Often this shows up as students skipping their regular yoga class, even if its something they truly love and have kept up all year! If yoga offers us a valuable pathway to overcoming many of the distractions and maladies of a busy, modern-day life and over-stimulated mind, what can we do and how can we help ourselves to keep up our yoga practice, especially at this time of the year?
"No matter how hard it may be to drag yourself to yoga class at the end of a busy day, inevitably you feel better when its over, walking fluidly out the door with your sticky mat rolled neatly under your arm. At that moment in may seem inconceivable that you would ever resist practicing again. But somehow, even the very morning after a great class, resistance to practice can arise." ~ Judith Lasater, yoga teacher and Yoga Journal columnist
Here are three tried-and-tested ways to help get yourself to yoga class this month:
RECOGNISE The first step is to recognise 'resistance' when it shows up. Resistance is just one of the plays of the mind. Curiously, resistance happens for us when we resist doing something that we know we enjoy and is good for us, in lieu of something else that seems more attractive at the time. Resistance can show up as procrastination, lethargy or excuses. It gets its power when we surrender to it. See it. Catch it. Accept it. Call it. 'This is resistance.'
BE CLEAR Secondly, get clear and take a moment to remind yourself of your greater intention. Why do you practice yoga? How does yoga help you in your life? Tune-into the reasons and intentions behind your yoga and what it is all about for you. Do I use my yoga practice to ease my lower back pain or is it about helping me to transform my life? Or both? In any case, it's important to become as clear as possible. Try writing down your intentions each morning or night for added focus.
TRUST Thirdly, trust that just by getting yourself to your yoga mat or yoga class and doing your yoga practice, you'll reap all the benefits that you need. The more effort you put into overcoming resistance, the stronger your willpower becomes to keep yourself on-track with whatever you choose in life. Each time you overcome your own resistance it's like making a deposit into a bank account of inner-strength that you can access later, when the going gets tougher and really calls for you to dig-deep.
No path through life is free of difficulties and challenges. And yoga is no exception. The beauty about yoga is, it's a well-trodden path that has stood the test of time and offers tremendous benefits, it you let it.
So, this silly season, enjoy and have fun - but don't neglect your yoga!