I’ve spent the last week or so making holiday cookies to share with family and friends. It was a way for me to connect with tradition (making family recipes passed down) and practice mindfulness at the same time. As I was rolling out my first bit of dough, thoroughly enjoying the feel of the dough and the sweet smells wafting through the air, I had a familiar thought: This could be my new hobby!
I’m always coming up with new hobbies to fill my already-too-full schedule. In warmer weather, I get excited about running, hiking, or gardening. When it gets colder, I go all in on knitting, cooking, or, in this case, baking. Here’s the scenario: I start a new project and get pumped! I spend hours in front of the computer researching everything about it. I watch how-to videos on YouTube. I buy books. I make countless trips to the store to stock up on supplies. Then, for a few hours each day I dive in, determined to learn a new skill.
But after a while, my enthusiasm starts to fizzle, sometimes it take a few months, in the case of baking cookies, sometimes just a few days. (Some might say I have a short attention span, but I like to think of myself as having an unquenchable thirst for all of life’s simple pleasures. How can I possibly choose just one hobby when there are so many new adventures to be had!?) After days of baking, I finally got my last bit of dough ready for the oven when I had another familiar thought: I’d rather be doing yoga.
These are the moments that make it so apparent to me that my yoga practice is so much more to me than other enjoyable pursuits that help me work off steam or get my mind off my worries. Yoga is such an essential part of my life that as I do other things—even things I love to do—I still find myself craving time to reflect, go deeper, and just be on my yoga mat. No, yoga is not a hobby, but rather a tool that makes all those other fun activities in life possible for me. Just as reading is a tool that unlocks a wealth of learning, enjoying, and experiencing subjects as vast as the world itself, my yoga practice helps me to to learn, enjoy, and experience the depth of my own soul. My time baking cookies was a delicious indulgence, but no activity has a chance of keeping my attention for long when there’s so much more exploring to do on my mat.