As much as I love my yoga practice, there are plenty of times when I'm just not in the mood to practice. For the longest time when I didn't feel like practicing; I just didn't. It seemed like a perfectly acceptable and loving way to handle my aversion to practicing in the moment—after all yoga teaches us to be kind to ourselves and let go of our need to be perfect, right? The only problem with this is that once you let yourself make an excuse to skip a practice once, you're more likely to do it again. And again. And before you know it you've formed a pattern and it's hard to get back on the mat. So I've learned that when I come up with excuses to skip my practice, I have to make myself do it anyway. And I've never regretted the choice to practice.
So how do I get myself to practice even when I don't want to? Here are a few tactics I've used recently.
Just do it. That's right. I tap into my willpower and make myself practice even though I don't want to. Once I get moving, I realize it feels great and I question my sanity for ever having an aversion to it in the first place.
Build gradually. Sometimes starting slow with stretches on the floor is the best way to get myself into the mood to practice. I like to start with a gentle neck release, then move to the side body, and Cat-Cow. Before too long I'm moving through Sun Salutations and standing poses.
Turn up the music. I usually like to practice in silence, but on those days when I can't motivate myself to move, I turn on some music (usually I listen to the Krishna Das station on Pandora so that I don't have to think about setting the tempo or the pace) and it almost always inspires me.
Look for resistance. I always start my practice with a meditation—sometimes short, sometimes long. When I don't feel like practicing asana, it can be really insightful to just sit, breathe, and notice where the aversions are in my body. Is it in my jaw? My neck? My hips? I'll start my practice by giving that part of my body a little extra attention and love.
Remind yourself why you practice. Do you practice to relieve stress? Is it a way to connect with something bigger than yourself? Even if you practice just because it makes you feel better sometimes all it takes is to remember your motivations for practicing in the first place to get you back on the mat.
How do you talk yourself out of excuses when you don't feel like practicing?