Stuck in a Yoga Rut?

Earlier this (5 ways to get out of your yoga rut via elephantjournal.com) showed up in my consciousness feed. Yes, I’m aware that “consciousness feed” sounds like the woo woo weirdo stuff that this blog has taken a stance against but that’s another topic of discussion altogether… I want to know how to get out of a yoga rut- who doesn’t?  It is inevitable that as a human being, the things that you love will at some point be less adored and you will seek the greener grasses that may or may not exist.

But it’s not getting out of a yoga rut that I read– it’s accepting that sometimes yoga isn’t going to be all you want to do and being okay with that. Sure, good message. For those people worried about being yoga enough, it’s presumably re-assuring to hear that you can “cheat on your mat”, take other yoga styles and not be a heretic, practice yoga off your mat (like on grass?) and think long and hard about how yoga makes you feel and maybe go elsewhere to address that (like a therapist or psychiatrist). But that’s not getting out of a rut.

A rut is when the thought of yoga makes you want to claw your eyes out. When the thought of practicing seems more cumbersome than doing anything else. When you think yoga is a lie (wasn’t it cake, though?).

So how exactly do you get out of a yoga rut?  There is no such thing as a “yoga rut” when yoga is more than just what you do in a small room in front of a bunch of people to varying degrees of friend and strange. What you might experience as a yoga rut is perhaps just a dissatisfaction with practicing asana. It happens. So how do you get out of an asana rut?

Try actually admitting that yoga sucks. And I don’t mean the fact that you’re living life (hopefully you’re acutely aware that life is yoga; yoga is life). I mean the fact that when you have to pay $20 for a yoga class and $100 for a yoga mat and $175 for some nice yoga clothes just to sweat in a room and feel inadequate, that sucks. Yoga the way it is practiced these days fucking sucks. And what is the alternative? Do you go out for a “donation” class (that awkward balance between getting what you need– yoga– and skirting a donation that’s required– isn’t that just a class?) in inclement weather outside where it’s cold and strangers can see your butt in downward dog? Or how about spending $20 on a yoga DVD that you can practice about 4 times before it’s boring, repetitive and no longer helpful for that quick yoga fix? That all, my friends, is a yoga suck fest.

Once you admit that yoga sucks, set your terms. What will you yoga-tolerate and what will you tell to yoga-suck-it? Can you stand the pretentious yogis who tell you about all the reasons why their brand of yoga is better? Can you stand the bendy bitches in the front of class? Can you stand that instructor telling you to open your heart? Are you interested in the yoga drama happening around the world or would you rather opt out of knowing that Lululemon has some sour secrets in its midst and gurus ’round the globe can’t keep their hands off girly asana despite their proclamations of brahmacharya and special moon days for sex? Whatever you feel about yoga– set your terms. Figure out what all that means to you and whether or not you’re down with what kind of yoga shitfest you might walk into when around other yogis.

Now, once you’ve set your terms and limits you can’t compromise. Sorry. I know you really like that new studio but every single class they’re talking about each other and yoga-related “news” like it’s soul food. It will be hard, but if you’re really committed to staying in love with yoga, you’re going to have to be firm in your commitment to a healthy yoga relationship. You can’t keep lowering your standards and expect that a long term yoga relationship is going to work. Stay strong and don’t compromise. It’s for your best interests. And yes, this is exactly like dating so maybe you can teach yourself something about relationships when you go the extra step to stop engaging in abusive, counter-productive, self-destructive yoga behavior.

Finally, when you go studio hopping and quietly sob in your shower after another shitty asana class, be unapologetic about your commitment to finding yoga that’s good for you. Whatever your choice, do it. You don’t have to apologize to someone or someones because their brand of yoga isn’t yours. If you feel that you must, then go ahead (you’ve got to feel good about the whole thing, right?) but don’t compromise your needs to please others. This is your practice and your life. You have to feel good about what you’re doing with your body and time (and money and so on…) otherwise you’re not actually practicing yoga, are ya?

It sounds a lot easier than it is to fall back in love with your yoga practice but it’s like recovering from a bad ex. It takes a bit of time and lots of reminders of why you loved these things (people) in the first place. It takes evaluation of self and all the routines you’ve set, the places you frequent to realize what it is that’s driving you away from the “mat” and putting you in a rut. Just like you will find a certain kind of person drinking at a dive bar, you’ll find a certain kind of person at certain kinds of yoga studios. Go find where you feel most comfortable and where the people you want to attract hang out. Maybe that’s not at a studio at all– and that’s okay.  Maybe you won’t get out of your asana-induced “yoga” rut. Maybe your rut will persist when you realize that the practice itself is the rut– and that’s okay. That’s still yoga. Yoga is still life whether it looks like a shoulderstand or rolling up your mat for the last time.  And hey, it’s the practice of yoga that lets you know that “yoga” isn’t for you (unless it is).

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