Has this ever happened to you? Yoga class is beginning and the instructor gently tells you to set an intention, like she does most classes, but inside you think, “No! I don’t want to set an intention! I’m sick of you and your intentions! Just get on with the class.” Or how about at the end of the class when everyone else is chanting Om, you’re inwardly saying Om Shmom, is this class ever going to end? How about practicing at home, when cleaning the bathroom suddenly seems urgent and more compelling than practicing a few downward dogs.
Welcome to yoga burnout. I’ve definitely had highs and lows in my yoga ‘career’. I’ve had stretches of days when I just couldn’t wait to get on the mat, when every pose seemed filled with energy and stamina and I felt 100% alive. I’d spend 90 minutes on my own practice and maybe go to a studio class, too, enjoying every delicious moment of it and the post-yoga high that went on and on.
I compare that to other stretches of days when I felt as if I was just going through the motions. My trees were wobbly and my warriors wimpy. I’d feel stiff and clumsy and wonder why I ever took up yoga in the first place. At worst, days or even weeks would go by and I’d never even set foot in the studio.
Some of this, I’ve come to realize, is the natural ebb and flow of life. As I’ve gotten older my needs have changed and I’ve had to adapt my yoga. But there’s also a day-to-day, and even moment-to-moment, changing rhythm. I’ve learned that it’s so important to listen to that rhythm and be in accord with it.
Whether you’re teaching a class or guiding yourself through your own practice, we are in harmony when we respond to the present moment. That might mean that your practice consists of five minutes of savasana, and that’s it. It might mean going to a hot power flow class and burning off excess energy. Whatever it is, ask yourself if this is what will best serve you in this moment.
Here are a few other tricks I’ve had success with in putting the spring back into your yoga step:
- Try another style of yoga. If you’re an ashtanga person, try restorative. If you like gentle, challenge yourself with vinyasa.
- Try one of the new yoga hybrid styles, such as hiking yoga, aerial yoga, or hoop yoga.
- Do another form of physical movement: ride a bike, go for a walk, take a surfing lesson…
- Check out another studio. Every place has it’s own culture and style.
- Do something that has nothing to do with yoga, like go to a rock concert or happy hour.
- If you practice at home, make your yoga space inviting. I like to turn the lights and candles on in my studio first thing in the morning, so the room looks inviting and full of energy.
- Take stock: what’s going on in your life and body and how can your practice meet you there?