My relationship with yoga began over a decade ago. I came to the practice while going through that funky transition between undergrad and adulthood. Unhappy, all I did was practice.
A few years later I decided to take a teacher training to deepen my understanding of yoga. By the end of the second immersion, I was hooked; utterly infatuated with Anusara yoga, I knew I had to be a teacher.
Changing Attitudes Towards Practice
I've been through many cycles of practice over the past eleven years or so. I've been on fire about yoga and the teachings, and I've felt uninspired. There have been times when I was practicing five, six times a week, and months when I never stepped foot on the mat.
There have been times when I felt strong and my yoga practice was advancing, and periods of injuries and no practicing at all. I've meditated daily for months at a time, and then spent weeks never sitting down with myself.
Still, I've never left yoga completely; the practice is woven into the fabric of my life. It just cycles through different stages like everything else.
Practicing in Cycles
Years ago, I heard meditation teacher Sally Kempton explain the cycles of practice and have since shared it with many of my students.
Some of us are enjoying our first cycle through the stages of practice, while others have been through them many times before — enough to know that everything always comes back around. The cycle of practice goes like this.
1. Aha Moment
You start practicing. Maybe your friend takes you to a class, or you read that meditation is helpful for combating stress, and you try it. You like it, you recognize some sort of benefit, and you want to keep practicing. An aha moment has sparked your fervor for yoga.
2. Honeymoon Phase
Lit up by your aha moment, you enter a honeymoon phase with your practice. You can't get enough. Your passion for yoga fuels your dedication, and your practice is at the forefront of your life.
You can't wait to step onto the mat, excited to explore and discover what yoga has to offer. It's a complete love affair.
3. The Fall
There's always a fall, a falling out… But you keep practicing anyway. Or perhaps you start practicing again – we all take time away from the mat – the hardest part is getting to your first class back or sitting back down to meditate for the first time in a while.
And then you continue to practice. Uninspired, not really wanting to, you participate anyway. You remind yourself why you fell in love with yoga, why you practice, and you engage even when you don't feel like it.
You commit to your yoga, and you keep practicing until the next aha moment; a spark of discovery that turns you back on, and you fall in love with your practice all over again.
Rinse, Cycle, Repeat
The cycle continues: aha moment, honeymoon phase, fall, keep practicing until the next aha moment. At times the cycle speeds up, moving through all three stages in one class, and at other times it slows down, testing your dedication.
In the early years of practice, aha moments as well as breakthroughs are abundant, happening one right after the next, and tend to taper offer the longer you practice.
You practice until yoga is no longer something you merely do — it’s part of who you are. You’ll get up tomorrow and practice again because you love it, and because you know the next aha moment is right around the corner.