Almost all of the people I’ve taught Yoga one-on-one encountered difficulties when it came to taking up a regular practice. They all had personalized (tailored to their needs and abilities) and short (20 minutes at most) practices. I suggested they try to find a regular time in the day for their practices and that they try to practice a few times a week. Still, it was difficult for them to find a place for the practice in their daily routines.
They all came to Yoga and to me of their own free will. They all invested time, effort and money in coming to private lessons. They all came back for more lessons. When they didn’t practice they ended up with a self-inflicted feeling of guilt. One person even said to me something like “I didn’t do my home work”.
Resistance to Change
People usually take on Yoga when they want to change something. People who come to one-on-one Yoga are usually seeking deeper – inviting substantial change into their lives.
Change starts as a confrontation with unknown elements that are appealing. But like most relationships, initial appeals are replaced with a lesser reality. You come to a Yoga teacher seeking enlightenment, you leave with a practice. A practice may be interesting for a few times – but then it loses some of it’s charm. Now instead of enlightenment you have a boring and repetitive practice. You also have a family and a job and worries … and amidst all this you need to make room for a boring practice.
This is the subtle workings of resistance to change. Change always meets resistance. If you are experiencing resistance – then you are probably in change.
… But You Are Practicing
The resistance to change cannot be removed – it is a natural and inevitable force. The feelings of guilt are redundant and can be resolved.
All of the students that came back for more lessons and who had guilt-trips about not practicing were constantly thinking about Yoga. They wanted to do their practices. Wanting to practice is a practice. Wanting to practice should always be the first “posture” in any practice sequence.
Wanting to practice means there is something inside you, a deep craving, reaching out to your awareness. Recognizing it replaces your attention from guilt & resistance into motivation & practice. It is so much better to move towards something you want then to escape something that weighs you down.
This is true both for beginners and advanced practitioners. If all you can today is want-to-practice, remember to see the wonder in that. It may not get you on the practice mat today, but if you let it it can be a rewarding practice.
Tip: It is OK to just go stand and look at your Yoga mat. It is OK to stand by it for a few minutes. It is OK to just lie down on it for a minute or two.