Coming Back To The Mat



Congratulations, you’re back to practicing yoga. That is so awesome, so beneficial and so happiness enhancing that any self-recrimination from the time you were away should look minuscule in comparison. But since human minds tend to focus on what they’ve missed, rather than what they’re up to, you be facing some energy draining beliefs. Whether you’re on the mat right now, getting back to it, or simply contemplating the return, here are some simple guidelines to have you back enjoying the health, emotional and other wellness benefits of a regular yoga practice with as little regret as possible.

First of all, focus on why you’re back. What do you hope to gain from returning to your mat? Are your kids simply demanding that you go back to yoga because you were so much fun after yoga classes, or is your back hurting, or do you just need some “me-time?” Whatever the draw, focus on how it makes you feel when you do have it. Rather than focusing on how grumpy you’ve been, in pain or depleted without the yoga, imagine how it will feel after your first class or session.

Write down the most passionate, powerful statement of your reason you come up with, and then write down five ways that enhances your life. If your reason is a pain free back, describe how wonderful that will feel and five things that will be better in your life for it. Next, write down five things you stand to loose by going back to yoga - things you won’t miss at all. If your reason is the back pain, maybe one of those things is pain relievers, or waking up in the middle of the night. Maybe some of the things you’ll gain will be time and mobility.

Now, with a clear statement and feeling about why you’re returning to yoga practice, consider briefly what interrupted your practice before. Did you stop because of an injury, or did a major project leave so little time your yoga got squeezed out? Was there an intense emotion you were avoiding by leaving yoga, or did it become too difficult to keep up? Whatever you come up with, treat it as just another fact, alongside the fact that day follows night and the sky is up - no judgment, no blame, just what was. Now trouble-shoot what you’ll do if it comes up again. Maybe you need a new style of yoga to work around that shoulder injury, or maybe you just need a new studio, one more convenient to your route or your schedule. You may be attached to a teacher or a place, but consider that you don’t know what gifts await you if you accommodate a change that lets you practice with more ease.

While you want to carve out time and make a date with yourself for your yoga practice, be sure you don’t turn it into another item on your to-do list. Be realistic about how you build it into your schedule. You might consider setting up a home practice to make it more convenient and easy to make room for. You could go to one class each week and practice for 30 minutes in the morning, time you create by packing lunches the night before. Then, when you roll out your mat and get to practice, be clear with yourself that this is your designated yoga time and you don’t have to think about what else you could be getting in. Think about your big reason and the five things your practice enhances in the rest of your day.

Finally, start out slowly. Wisdom wouldn’t have you begin your practice with full-wheel backbend, and you shouldn’t expect your Eagle Pose to be as balanced right away as it was before you stopped. Not to worry, your muscles will remember and your flexibility will return. In the mean time, commit to enjoying the poses anew and exploring how each one feels in the moment you’re doing it. Consult with a teacher to help you in sequencing an elegant, safe and effective practice.

Then, just show up! The most important moment is now, and there are always interruptions. Use your return to practice to focus on letting the past go, letting negative self-judgment go and focusing on the abundance of choosing presence.

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