I've arrived. I roll out my yoga mat. I'm in a gorgeous, luxury 'grand designs type' holiday home, booked 2 years ago when I was still earning good bucks working for a bank. With 2 spacious lounges and inspiring views from floor to ceiling windows of the beautiful shaped islands of Rum and Eigg in the North West of Scotland. What else could I possibly need right now?
But... after only 5 minutes I have this strong urge to run downstairs to check in with my Facebook account, email accounts, WhatsApp messages; the list goes on. I rationalize this is an absurd, unjustifiable urge, especially as it is also Sunday evening and generally quiet on social media. Back to my yoga in my tranquil surroundings. But... I'm in Kapotasana, pigeon pose, a deep hip opening posture that is best held for a few minutes in order to let the gluteus maximus muscle, one of the largest in our body to relax, open up and let go. And my mind is imploring me to jump back out of it. Avoid the discomfort that's coming up. I'm disappointed with myself, only earlier in the day I was happily reading and absorbing an article in Psychologies magazine about practicing surrender in your yoga poses and here I am a yoga teacher, resisting. But… I'm human and prone to resisting like everyone else.
Any of this sounds familiar in relation to your good intentions when you are striving to zone-out and take some 'me time'?
So, how can we live with or even better, work through these 'buts' that pop up time and again. Are we now living in an age where we need to build resistance to restlessness? Have we forgotten how to wind-down even when we want ourselves to?
Let’s give this idea a try.
In ancient yogic theory there is something called ‘tapas’. It’s one of five moral codes, the 'niyamas' that form Patajanli's 8 limbed yoga path. Niyamas are aimed at guiding us towards positive behavior. The notion of tapas translates to the concept of 'self discipline', 'determination' and 'burning away thought patterns and habits we have fallen into'. Seems to fit with our pattern of 'buts' right? So, to help nip the 'but habit' in the bud we need to indulge in self discipline and fire ourselves up to help pave the way to our true greatness. Let’s keep to the simple notion of 3s to get us started:
1) Whatever your 'but' or 'buts' are, first you have to recognize them, give them a conscious awareness, a name/identity. Whether it be a habit of going to bed later than you'd like, drinking too much of something that isn't in your health's best interest, constantly checking your phone, and so on. Make the connection, perhaps even write it down and capture it.
2) Make time to get on your yoga mat, starting with 5-10 minutes a day. Just sit there and breathe, or do a few postures you remember from your yoga class or even play a Youtube yoga video or DVD. I'm confident however much resistance you have to get on your mat, you'll leave it feeling you're in a better place, a better state of mind and grateful for the effort you made. If you can get onto your yoga mat in times when you least feel like it, it can become a great way of helping overcome inertia towards other things in your life you may be putting aside or procrastinating on.
3) Give yourself permission to be still and observe the comings and goings of your mind and thought patterns. See your thoughts for what they are and come back to your place of 'tapas', stick like glue to your good intention and see it through – on and off your yoga mat.
As for me, what did I do on that Sunday evening. I recognised the need for a digital detox and signed off using anything to connect me to the outside world for the rest of the evening. It was a small, conscious start and it felt good. I breathed into my Kapotasana posture, observed what was coming up for me and brought focus to my breath to work through the discomfort. I surrendered to the reality that I was resisting my practice but staying with it all the same, my glue stuck.
And if you feel or find your glue could do with a little strengthening. Come on one of my Wellbeing or Yoga Retreats, run throughout the year and be in a supportive environment to find or refind that fire in your belly to make positive changes, to explore, to grow and to love your yoga self all the more.
"There may not be Wi-Fi on a retreat, but I promise you will find a better connection".
Thanks for reading this post. Looking for a yoga retreat to tackle the “but” habit and unwind from your agitated life? Go to BookYogaRetreats.com to find the most comprehensive offering of yoga holidays and yoga teacher training on the web!