Feeling down about Downward Dog? Burned out on Sun Salutations? You may be suffering from “alaysa”, listed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as one of the obstacles to yoga practice, along with disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, sensuality, and false perception (1.30).
Despite the wonderful benefits of yoga, it is normal to feel occasionally unmotivated about your practice. After the honeymoon period of yoga is over, boredom and resistance can sneak in and sabotage your progress.
Yet, there are ways to rekindle your yoga practice, ensuring that you continue the momentum of continued practice. B.K.S. Iyengar writes that “to remove the obstacle of laziness, unflagging enthusiasm is needed.” But how do you regain that enthusiasm on days when you’d prefer to skip yoga for an evening on the couch with ice-cream and reality television?
Here are some suggestions that will get you back on the mat:
1. Find a yoga buddy.
There’s a reason why spiritual teachers talk about the importance of sangha, or spiritual community. When the going gets tough, you need the company of people who will support and encourage you. In fact, an English study found that 64 percent of women who exercise with their friends are more likely to work out harder than if they exercised alone. Plus, there’s greater motivation to show up if you know your pal is depending on you.
2. Take part in a yoga challenge.
You may have heard that it takes thirty days to form or change a habit. Why not try a one-month yoga challenge? There are plenty of online yoga challenges for you (such as DOYOUYOGA’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge) that will encourage you to stay on-course while learning new asanas.
Also check out the various yoga challenges available on Instagram where you can find a program that suits your interests and skill level. You can stay inspired (and accountable!) by tracking your progress throughout the month. By using hashtags, you’ll also join a community of fellow yogis, and possibly gain a few friends on the same journey.
3. Boost your practice with aromatherapy.
Using the right essential oils can increase your focus and motivation for your yoga practice. Experiment with different essential oils until you find the scents and blends that lift your mood and inspire your practice.
I recommend sweet orange oil or bergamot for mental refreshment, lavender or ylang ylang for relaxation, and frankincense or patchouli to ground and steady the mind.
Try different methods of spreading the fragrance, such as gently spritzing your home yoga area, applying to your pulse points, or using a diffuser/oil burner. Be sure to follow the instructions and use care before applying oil directly to the skin.
4. Try a new playlist.
Go outside your sonic comfort zone and start rocking your vinyasa to unexpected tunes. Avoid the same tired music and indulge in some fresh and exhilarating sounds. If you usually workout to new age tunes, why not try jazz or reggae? Ask your yoga buddies for their recommendations. There are pre-made (and awesome) playlists available online on Spotify and Apple Music, or check out this morning yoga playlist or this one if you want summer vibes in your practice.
5. Tune into spiritual inspiration.
When suffering from doubt or dullness, Sri Swami Satchidananda encourages us to turn our attention to a “great soul’s mind” and meditate “on the heart of a noble person.” And in the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali counsels us to meditate on whatever is elevates the spirit (1.39).
You don’t have to look far to find resources to uplift the soul. You can read books about yogis and sages, listen to podcasts by inspiring people, and watch Youtube videos featuring holy people and saints. Fuel your practice with a full tank of spiritual inspiration, reminding you that yoga is more than loose hamstrings and firm abs.
Every practitioner of yoga eventually experiences low periods. The ebb and flow of mood and motivation are good reminders that all things are impermanent, and that this yoga slump or 'lazy period' will pass too. Keep the spirits lifted, engage the senses, try something different, and most importantly, get back on that mat!
Image credit: Samrat Pasham