mmm yoga. Talk about vintage; this ancient art is so chic right now, & I’m geeked about it.
I could go on for days about why you could benefit from adding a yoga practice into your current wellness situation, but we’ll save that for a later post.
Yoga changed the direction that my life was going. It quite honestly saved me from plunging into a deep depression. I give my mat 100% of the credit, I just showed up and surrendered.
But like anything else that you fall in love with – burn out is real.
As much as I desperately need a daily practice, it doesn’t always happen. Often times I find myself not wanting to unroll my mat at all – & that’s a problem.
It’s important to keep the lifeline pumping strong… You have to stay excited about the very things that keep you going.
Here’s what works for me, to keep yoga exciting and fun and fresh and beautiful;
The mat is everything.
Investing in a high quality mat is worth it. Your mat is the most consistent part of your practice. Despite what you wear, what you look like, what you’re feeling, who you’re with, where you practice, what the temperature is, what you’re working through, what style you’re trying – your mat stays the same. It joins you every time you decide to humble yourself and practice.
I absolutely love my mat. I love the way it looks. I love the way it makes me feel to carry it around. I love the vibe it gives off when I’m prancing around the city like “this bitch does yoga.” My mat is my cross, in a sense. Christians wear a cross around their neck or tattoo it on their skin – I strap my mat to my back and unravel it under my bare feet. It’s a part of who I am now.
Most importantly, it carries for me all of the things that I no longer have room for in my life.
In terms of your physical practice, the mat matters. The grip, the thickness, the color. ALL are crucial details that will make or break your yoga experience. I’ll give a first-time-student my own mat to practice on before I let them have their first yoga experience on a Walmart mat. Because it’s THAT important.
So if you’ve started to fall – out of love – with yoga, maybe this is the first place you could start. Even if you already have a great quality mat, maybe try switching up the color. Different colors will resonate with you in different seasons of your life. Right now I’m practicing primarily on a blue mat because blue is the color of the throat chakra. The throat chakra is where we house our truth and communication. I want, desperately, to be a great communicator. I want to live in my truth and put words to how people feel and what they’re experiencing. And to what I feel and what I’m experiencing. So, blue it is.
My go-to mat brands are: Yoga Hustle, Clever Yoga and Lulu Lemon (the traditional mat, NOT the Namastay mat).
Listen, don’t Look.
I honestly did not start loving my own yoga practice until I learned the basics. Why? Because straining your neck in a down dog to look up at the teacher to see what the heck they’re talking about is a real buzz kill.
There’s something to be said about knowing the basic cues; the dogs, the childs poses, the sun salutation fundamentals. If you’re familiar enough with the postures to where you could just listen and not look, it will make for a MUCH better yoga experience. This takes time, so hang in there with your practice. Too many people give up on it before they’re comfortable enough with the cues. But trust me, it’s worth it to commit until you can at least flow pretty confidently with your eyes closed.
Establish a why.
We all come to our mats for different reasons… Sometimes it’s lust; like I said earlier, yoga is so chic right now. Everyone wants it. The aesthetic is hot on social platforms. The high keeps you coming back. And the body results that people are getting from an intense yoga practice are desirable, no doubt. But lust isn’t love. Lust won’t entice you to unravel your mat on days where you could give a shit less about yoga. Love will. Your WHY will.
Yoga isn’t something you do on Monday nights at 5:30. It’s a lifestyle. When you love yoga, you live yoga. It gets into your bones. You ujjayi in your sleep. You find yourself casually using sanskrit where sanskrit doesn’t belong. You smell like sage and palo santo. Its undeniable. A yogi is a yogi.
But behind every committed yogi is a pretty serious why.
I hate the question “how did you get into yoga” because really, it’s irrelevant. What’s more intriguing is why I stayed.
For me, yoga is my stability. My practice is a window into my heart & soul. I’m hard to read sometimes. Even I have a hard time reading me. But my practice is like an open book. I can tell by the way my body feels in a down dog whether or not I’m hung up on something. My hamstrings tighten up like a stretched rubber band when I’m upset. Your body knows before your mind knows.
I can tell when I’m taking on too much on my plate by how heavy I feel flowing from posture to posture. I can see that I’m lacking femininity when I feel the need to double up on chaturungas. I can tell when something is off in my body and in my mind. When I’m filled with anxiety, I can’t even get on my mat and sit still.
Yoga gives me a starting point. It’s the foundation to why I do what I do.
Establish a WHY that will keep you coming back to your mat. The physical benefits of yoga are great and are often times a great WHY to start with, but I fear sometimes that they’re not enough. I love my yogi shoulders and yogi endurance, but it’s not enough for me to make yoga a lifestyle. And it shouldn’t be for you, either. Yoga offers so, so much more.