Why is it so hard to make time for the big things in life? Sometimes, it seems easier to choose a glass of wine over a yoga class or a mediocre book over a daunting task on a growing to-do pile. In those moments, the larger ideas we have for ourselves can appear irritating and even overblown.
It all comes down to choices. Some are based on conscious preferences, while other decisions are less obvious. For example, engaging in a conversation with a casual acquaintance, getting out of work late, or grocery shopping on the way home may appear unavoidable and necessary, but they all have the same effect: it suddenly is too late to attend yoga class—again. We shrug, “Life is busy, what can you do?” However, there is no denying that something is missing. There must be more, beyond the casual conversations, the work, the wine and the food. Beyond people asking how you’re doing without ever stopping to hear the answer.
Here are some thoughts about making “big thing” changes.
The situation on the outside
The yoga class you attended in the past was actually relaxing and quite good, but then you missed a few sessions and now you’re not going at all—even though you bought that beautiful mat and bag, which are now sitting in the closet. “I work late, it’s hard to make it there on time,” you tell others, or “My back sometimes hurts and I am not as flexible as I used to be.” Everyone nods in agreement, some with obvious relief. Yes, we all find it difficult to make it to classes regularly, although we manage to get to work, spend plenty of time with electronic devices throughout the day, and are all caught up on Game of Thrones. Somehow, the fact that others have encountered the same obstacle seems to confirm our choices.
The situation on the inside
And, yet, the class was good, and you felt different afterwards. You slept better and the tension in your shoulders had eased. Isn’t that worth pursuing further? Come to think of it, not everything was enjoyable. For one thing, the people in the front row had perfect bodies and wore carefully color-coordinated yoga clothes. There they were, breathing and chanting and flexing at just the right time. Maybe your teacher reminded everyone that yoga is not about competition, but you felt you had to try harder anyway, for yourself, and assuming different poses was a reminder of the weight you gained or the flexibility you lost. Maybe you had a hard time following directions and lifted the wrong arm or breathed out when everyone else inhaled. Maybe you were not able to sit with your legs in a pretzel shape with your fingers arranged perfectly as you saw in magazines and online. Everyone else appeared to learn much faster.
Balancing the two
Learning to be in tune with your body is a big goal that can’t be achieved overnight. If you feel frustrated with your lack of progress, try to honestly look at the reasons for not going back to the class. Is your self-assessment (I am not doing this well, I am not flexible enough, I am clumsy) truly justified? Did you overlook other class participants who shared your struggles because you focused on one or two people? Did the teacher do or say anything that made you feel inadequate, or was it the thoughts going through your head?
“Thinking in advance about the day and its milestones makes us far more likely to reach specific goals.”
As you become clear about your own intentions to engage in the long-term process of learning yoga skills, be specific about your time choices. “My yoga class is at six o’clock,” is a far more concrete statement than “I might go to yoga this week if I feel up for it.” Thinking in advance about the day and its milestones makes us far more likely to reach specific goals. As you think about the day ahead, plan concrete steps you will take to make it to class. That may involve setting out everything you need for class in a fully packed bag, or keeping a yoga mat and supplies bag in your car/under your desk. As a fixed component of your weekly schedule, the class now has a different priority. Because you want to be ready for yoga, you will cut the conversation with your acquaintance shorter, leave work on time, and plan to get groceries at a different time.
What is important to know
Yoga was never intended as a competitive way for people to show off the flexibility of their bodies. Despite the online hype, there is no such thing as “freakishly mindful” or “mind-blowing success” in yoga. If you did not completely enjoy the teacher’s approach or other class participants, don’t dismiss the entire concept. Fortunately, yoga is now offered in a broad variety of styles and approaches. One of them is sure to be a good fit for you. As with everything else, it takes a while to learn a new skill, and good teachers will enjoy the opportunity to assist you.