Self-Practice: Overcoming Inertia

Flop2This morning, I found myself lying around in bed for a good while after I awoke – feeling both cozy and lazy. By the time I slid out of bed and my feet touched the cold floor, I was already hungry, another item in the mounting argument to forego my morning practice. “I’ll do it in the afternoon…” Despite my good intentions though, my practice rarely happens if don’t do it first thing, so I decide to just do it now, to “get it out of the way”.

I start with deep abdominal work – stability has been a theme lately – along with resisting my practice. I work through sun salutes, strong standing poses and balancing. I practice shifting my weight and my center of gravity. I jump and lift, searching for that stable center, to find some control over the momentum. I find suddenly, that a subtle action in my arms increases the support – and remember that I knew this once (days ago? Weeks? Or longer?), but had forgotten. It comes together again and a more integrated, softer lift follows. Then I turn away from the wall and promptly lose my nerve. “Not today, Love. It will be here tomorrow.” I stretch and fold, hips, shoulders, neck. I soften – no, I flop down. Arms splayed, legs too. I rest.

After my practice I make some notes in my journal, about the results of my time on the mat, how I feel – physically, mentally and emotionally. I record what I’m working on and learning, physical details and this, which I want to share with you:

There are times when I don’t stall, whole months when I long to practice. Some of this is cyclical, even seasonal for me and right now, I’m in that season of inertia. No matter how good I feel when I’m done or how much I enjoy the practice itself, no matter the many benefits, no matter all the reasons that I am a practitioner and a teacher, I still resist. I still have to make a case for it, and treat it, sometimes, like a check-box, an obligation, “Let’s just cross this off the list right now”. I know from years of experience that long term consistency in my practice depends on me overcoming the reluctance to move and I do this better on some days than others. One of the biggest strategies that I employ is removing the decision-making process altogether by making practice itself a daily task, first thing in the morning – no different than taking a shower or brushing my teeth. Anything and everything I might do once I arrive on my mat is negotiable however, including how long I stay, whether my practice is gentle or strong or some combination – and whether I actually practice physically or simply sit and breathe. Some mornings, I am able to bypass the resistance. But if I wait too long after waking, it’s almost certain to set in.

This series is intended to give a window into what a personal practice of yoga might look like over time. Since self practice is an individual thing, these posts are also intended to open up the conversation and offer a place to share your own observations and questions and find encouragement and inspiration. I would love to hear about YOUR practice. What are you working on? What’s making sense and what’s challenging for you right now? Let’s practice together. Share your experiences or questions in the comments below or a link to a post you’ve made about your own practice – on your own blog, Instagram, or elsewhere. 

3 comments on “Self-Practice: Overcoming Inertia

  1. I’m finding these posts very helpful to read Mel. Partly because while I’m not trying to copy a ‘type’ of practice and make it my own, I find it useful to hear about how others approach it daily…as a beginner to this process, it helps inform me (if that is the right word). This post and the last are particularly helpful because I find comfort and hope that someone who has been doing this a lot longer than I still has these cycles of inertia or resistance (I love that word actually and think it applies to me more than inertia does). It’s reassurance that it’s ‘normal’ and that we can move past it.

    I think that my practice lately has been about coping and recovery. I’ve not been on the mat in over a week but the emotional and mental aspect of practice is now always with me…which is a comfort. I handled a situation last week far better than I expected and I attribute that to the practice of yoga (and to your help!).

    1. I’m so glad Rachel. I think it’s important to be realistic about long term practice. Sometimes it’s a pleasure, sometimes it’s uplifting, sometimes I can’t wait to practice and it’s the thing that I enjoy most in my day, but it’s not reasonable to believe that it will be that way all the time. Just as it’s unreasonable and we’ll inevitably be disappointed if we expect that we can feel happy all of the time. Looking for the enjoyment is something to practice of course, and even in these seasons of slowness I often do find it on my mat, but not if I don’t push through that desire to stay in bed!!

      You’ve touched on something here – the sense that our practice is with us whether it takes a structured form or not… Hurray for the ways in which it can support us in these situations!

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