The Ebb and Flow of Yoga Practice.

Sometimes life coasts along easily, gracefully. Daily routines feel effortless. Relationships are content and supported. Quietude is comfortable. A sense of calm has permeated existence. We are alive and all is well in the world. 

Until it’s not.

Life isn’t always sunshine and roses. Life can get difficult. Sometimes the road washes away admidst the downpour, making forward movement feel like an impossibility. What was once easy and quiet feels chaotic and messed up. A contented relationship becomes unsettled. Routines get lost. Easy coasting becomes a memory. We are alive and our world feels hard. 

And then there’s yoga. When life is moving gracefully, yoga practice feels like a beautiful extension of who and where we are. Our practice is fluid, strong, and full of joy. Our practice makes sense, even when we encounter an obstacle on our yoga mat. The desire to push through brings lightness and satisfaction. 

But what about when things are falling apart? It’s a completely different story… Our practice begins to wane. Because of this, we feel guilty and discontent. When we do actually make it to the mat, our practice feels weak, disjointed, and lacking in spirit. Encountered obstacles feel like insurmountable mountains, causing frustration. The desire to give up is real. 

There are a few things at play here:

We have made a differentiation between a good practice and a bad practice. When we feel okay, our practice works. When we feel not okay, our practice doesn’t work. Looking at this habitual thought pattern objectively, we can recognize that it’s flawed. Yoga practice is never good or bad, no matter what is happening. The fact that we’ve shown up, amidst happiness or sadness, is all that matters. Is it possible that our practice is even stronger and more important when we’re feeling crappy? Can our yoga practice be a beautiful extension of who and where we are, even when we’re in a bad space? Of course.

More importantly, when things are falling apart, we need to remember all of the ways in which we’re practicing yoga off the mat. Being kind to our partner when we’re exhausted and sleep deprived is yoga. Cooking a nice meal with thoughtfulness and intention is yoga. Mindfully watering our flower garden is yoga. Waking up at 2am and patiently taking our puppy outside to pee is yoga. Finding moments throughout the day to breath is yoga. We can practice without ever stepping on a mat… How reassuring!

It’s okay to sometimes not feel our best; life is never perfect. Ease will come and go, like the tide. We will have good days and we will have bad days. Learning how to navigate the ups and downs with fluidity can be helpful. That said, allowing ourselves room to feel like shit is important. Just as important as allowing ourselves to feel happiness. Learning to live in the moment and adjust our yoga practice accordingly will enable a long and realistic relationship to this ancient wisdom. 

Life is incredible. Life is hard. The ebb and flow will continue this way forever. And that’s alright. Just keep practicing.