Life moves in cycles. Our habits and hobbies can seem like an essential part of life one moment and an afterthought the next. Our routines can become relinquished, plans pushed aside and even things that once brought us profound benefits can sometimes slip away.
And yes, this includes the relationship we have with our yoga practice...
If you’ve fallen off the ‘yoga wagon’, don't worry, it happens to most of us at some point. Whatever the reason for your break or however long you've been away it can feel a little daunting to get started again. So here are a few suggestions to help you get back on your mat:
It can be helpful to remember that yoga doesn’t have to mean a full hour or more of physical asana practice. We can still experience the benefits and joy of yoga from a few minutes in meditation, a short session of pranayama, or with a few simple yoga poses.
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The physical benefits of yoga such as increased mobility and flexibility, core strength, and greater body awareness don’t disappear when we step off the mat – we carry these benefits with us all day, and they enhance every moment to come. The best way to experience this is of course through feeling it for yourself through practice but if you haven’t yet found your way back, it might be worth doing some research for your own inspiration.
Search online for ‘yoga benefits’ and you’ll be inundated not just with personal triumphs and anecdotal transformations (and some dubious claims), but increasingly you'll also find robust evidence about the positive benefits yoga can have on blood pressure, inflammation, joint pain and addiction, anxiety, mood swings and hormone issues, back pain and cognitive function. A regular practice is also an incredible way to prevent aches and pains from occurring in the first place, and the research into yoga’s ability to increase bone density and prevent injury is so widespread that everywhere from retirement homes to football clubs are adopting it.
Inspire your mind
One of the most beneficial aspects of yoga in today’s world is the sense of space it affords. At a time when many of us can barely keep up with our own schedules and reach for our phones every few minutes, dedicating time to simply being, breathing and moving is a welcome and much-needed antidote.
Indeed, a yoga practice is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle when it comes to figuring out how to feel more peaceful and positive, self-loving and truly ‘in the moment’. Creative thinking and great ideas need time and space to breed, and they’re able to flourish when we’re in a state of relaxed awareness, meditative absorption and flow – just as we are when practicing yoga.
Be a beginner all over again
When you do return to your practice, there are a couple of things that could happen; a) you’ll fall instantly back in love with it and remember how good it makes you feel, b) you’ll realise that it isn’t as juicy and relaxing as you thought it might be, and that your body has somehow forgotten what the word ‘flexible’ even means, let alone remembering the Sanskrit term for the postures…
The thing is though; this beautiful re-introduction to yoga is a blessing in disguise. The more we practice continuously, the more we’re likely to fall into habits, but when we come back to yoga after a break, it’s a little like being a beginner all over again. The mind is open to new ideas, the ears are ready to listen, and the body is eager to release weeks or months of built-up physical and emotional tension.
When we come back to yoga after a break, it’s a little like being a beginner all over again. The mind is open to new ideas, the ears are ready to listen, and the body is eager to release weeks or months of built up physical and emotional tension.
Gradually we’re able to form new patterns of movement, have deeper and more meaningful realisations about the workings of the mind, and discover whole new facets of ourselves. It’s like reading a meaningful book for the second time – you’ll discover parts you missed, understand aspects of it more fully, and some parts will take on a whole new meaning altogether.
So welcome back; whether you’re returning from holiday, relocation, career change or simply a break from your practice, come as you are and rediscover your mind, your body and your yoga.