13 Apr Combating Your “Buts” of Practicing Yoga
Written by Jason Cummings, yoga instructor at The Institute of Beauty and Wellness
So, you’ve taken a few yoga classes and you know how good you can feel after, and you want to make it part of your life.
BUT (because there’s always a ‘but’):
But I don’t have the time.
But I don’t have the space.
But I don’t have the money.
But I don’t feel like I’m a ‘yoga person’.
I get it. I really do. When I decided to pursue teacher training so long ago, I was pulling down a whopping $375 every two weeks at my food service job (and that was working 35-40 hours a week), living in a three bedroom apartment with four other people and five cats, and replacing most of my meals with coffee and cigarettes because those things were cheaper than actual food (or so I believed at the time). In other words, I was a mess. I was a rack of bones with a thin layer of skin and muscle over the top, with dark circles under my eyes, yellow fingernails and no space, time, or money. Not a cute look.
And what’s more, in order to pay for my teacher training I took a job at a night club, walking around with no shirt on until bar close on Friday and Saturday nights selling shots to people who were already drunk. Pretty ‘yoga person’ activities, right?
The thing was, I really wanted to learn more about yoga. I really wanted to take yoga to the next level. And I knew I was going to have to endure some discomfort in order to get myself there. So, I endured.
To be fair, at that point I had already established a pretty thorough yoga practice, but it had taken me a long time to get there. A lot of mornings of snoozing my way through the time I had intended to get up and get on the mat. A lot of evenings choosing drinks with my friends over going to yoga class. A lot of procrastination (which I’m still really good at). But, eventually, yoga won out.
And now, back to you and the list of ‘buts’.
You say “but I don’t have time”.
BUT, you actually do. As with anything, if you want to make it happen, you have to make time for it. Now, I’m not standing here with my arms folded over my chest, looking down my nose at you when I say that. I’m just stating facts. Anything new requires a time commitment.
Don’t think to yourself you have to get up at four in the morning and do an hour and a half of yoga followed by fifteen minutes of meditation and/or deep breathing, and do that every day for the rest of your natural life. You don’t have to overhaul your whole life in order to incorporate more time for yoga. All you have to do is clear up ten minutes here and a half hour there, maybe starting out doing that two or three times a week. And as that becomes more habitual, you’ll find yourself spending a little more time on the mat each time, and wanting to add that to your schedule a few more days a week. If not, no biggie. Two or three days a week is fine.
You say, “but I don’t have the space”.
BUT, you don’t really need a space. Or, at least, you don’t need that much space. Is there anywhere in your house where you can lay down flat, or even just stand up straight? Then perfect, you have the space.
We see these yoga magazines and videos all the time where these beautiful people are practicing in a beautiful studio, or on the top of a beautiful mountain, or at a beautiful resort, with beautiful music and beautiful scenery, and we start to believe that this is how our space has to be or else it’s not yoga. Some articles you’ll read will tell you that you need to set up a special area that’s “just for yoga” so you can have a “sacred space”. I’m here to tell you that is incorrect. Practice the yoga wherever you have space, and that will become your sacred space. In fact, if you go about the practice with the right mindset, every space becomes a sacred space. And I can guarantee that the ancient yogis didn’t sit around thinking, “man, I’d really like to practice, but there isn’t anybody around to play flute music for me, and I don’t have any potted plants or incense, and this plain old ground is just so… unattractive. Oh, well, I guess it’s just not in the cards today.” They didn’t care. They just did the damn thing.
You say, “but I don’t have the money.”
BUT you don’t need money. Granted, there are yoga studios all over charging $15-$25 a class or more. And, the popular opinion lately is that yoga has become the territory of the affluent members of our society. I am here, again, to tell you this is not true.
For every big-name, loud studio out there charging piles of money, there is a smaller, quieter studio somewhere offering sliding-scale classes, free classes, or – as is the case here at the Institute of Beauty and Wellness – $5 classes every day. Or, if you’re living by the skin of your teeth when it comes to money, there are all kinds of resources that cost absolutely nothing at all. Everyone is putting out yoga how-to videos everywhere these days, so you can go ahead and Google it. Trust me, you’ll get more results than you know what to do with.
You say, “but I don’t think I’m a yoga person.”
Let’s start off here by defining what being a “yoga person” means. If you think it means a super-fit, super-bendy, super-chill, vegan person who is forever quoting Rumi or Ekhart Tolle, and is never, ever unkind or selfish, then I can tell you, most of us out here are not “yoga people”. But if you think “yoga person” means “a person who practices yoga”, well, then, anybody can be a “yoga person”.
Yoga doesn’t ask that you follow the herd and mimic everything the yoga magazines, boutiques and websites are telling you is “real yoga”. Yoga doesn’t demand that you achieve what those Instagram yogis are doing, standing on toe-point and pulling their other leg behind their head. All yoga asks is that you meet it where you are, and put in some effort.
If you think you can’t be a “yoga person” because you have bad knees, or a fuller figure, or you’re a certain age, or something else that seems would automatically exclude you from yoga (i.e.- in a wheelchair, missing a limb, etc.), you are mistaken. Yoga has been around for a really, really long time and it has been adapted to accommodate every single person on this planet.
Besides, no one starts off doing yoga perfectly. We all start like baby animals: shaky, uncertain and clumsy. As time and practice go by, we grow into strong, confident practitioners, regardless of our perceived limitations. And if, as you become more established in your practice, you decide to become vegan, or gluten-free, or whatever else there is, then so be it. As I said, yoga doesn’t ask that you do these things, only that you show up and do the practice.
So, there you have it. I hope that I’ve managed to convince you to stop putting your “buts” between yourself and yoga and to actually get out there and start doing it. And remember, if you need a boost, I’m always here at the Institute with $5 yoga classes for all levels. Go check the schedule, and I’ll see you soon.