That first step back onto the mat can feel like a daunting one. Even the most dedicated yogi’s take time off from their practice, for all manner of different reasons. Sometimes it’s even healthy to step back for a little while, regain your perspective and come back to yoga with a bit more oomph.
It doesn’t really matter what the reason was behind you stepping away. The point is that you want to get back into your practice. You just don’t know how. Your body might feel a little bit stiffer than before. Your mind might struggle to quieten. You just don’t feel as connected as you once were with your mat and the movements you usually make there.
That’s totally ok! One of the first steps to getting back into your practice is overcoming any feelings of guilt. Don’t beat yourself up about making little to no movement these past few months; with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been an unprecedented time for us all! On top of the usual pressures of daily life, we’ve all been faced with an overwhelming amount of uncertainty and fear. Although we all know our practice is there to help us, it’s completely understandable that you might not have had the energy or motivation to make it to your mat. Before reaching for it again, just reassure yourself that whatever you have or haven’t done recently was enough.
In preparation to actually rolling out your mat, maybe take some time to set up your space, especially if you’re practicing from home. This might involve tidying a few bits away, lighting a candle, burning some incense and popping on some tunes that help you relax. Have a look at our blog post about setting up your home practice space for more on this. If you’re attending an in studio class (they are back - yay!), make sure you bring any props you think you’ll need along with you, so you can get comfy in poses you might not have explored in a while. Having a space that you feel comfortable in and connected to can really help you get back into your practice.
Once you’re all set up and physically ready to practice, you may want to take some time to arrive on your mat. This looks different for us all, but taking some deep breaths and closing your eyes might help you drop into yourself. In the quiet moments at the start of your practice, you may want to repeat some positive affirmations to yourself. Maybe you focus on letting go of any expectations or ideas you may be holding onto about your practice. Perhaps you set an intention, simple and small, for restarting your practice today. You may just welcome a feeling of calm. Whatever you do, look in a little and let the silence guide you back to what your practice is all about; you.
When you start to move, try and hold any affirmations, intentions or calm with you, especially in postures that may feel challenging after some time away. Embrace the moments your body calls out for something a little slower and gently feel into shapes that rouse any stiffness. You don’t want to over do it with your first session back, even if in the moment your body seems fine blasting through a strong flow. By all means, move in a way that feels most needed by you, but keep it intuitive, stay open and embrace whatever comes up.
Listening to yourself is pretty key to developing a practice that lasts beyond these inevitable periods off. Yes structure, goals and milestones can help us at times, but being aware and remaining kind to ourselves is what a forever practice is all about. It might feel like right now your yoga flame has gone out, but it’s not distinguished. Yes it might be flickering, but it is there, always. Simply waiting for you to come back with more fire and light than before.
If you have been struggling to get back on your mat, then do check out our upcoming online class 'A Guide To: Getting Back Into Your Practice'. In this 30-minute session with Charlene, she'll share her thoughts on sustaining a yoga practice that works for you. This might be useful for anyone who hasn't practiced as much as usual over lockdown, which is probably most of us! Available to book as part of our Trika at Home passes or any of your in-person passes, subscriptions or memberships.