There will be days when you simply don't want to get on your mat. You will search for every reason under the sun not to. Rest assured, most—if not all—yogis have found themselves in this place at one time or another.
Below, some of the most common reasons that have kept me from my mat, and what I've learned from them.
Stayed up till 2 a.m.? Booked solid with meetings all day? I've found that some of my best asana practices have happened after sleepless nights (and it has helped me sleep better that night). A sleep-exhausted savasana is the ultimate energizing boost.
I've also noticed that meetings are more productive because I am grounded in my body and in the present moment. When I practice in the morning, I find that the yoga high makes for a calmer day and that I navigate my many obligations with more equanimity than when I haven't practiced.
I could write a book on this one. Whether it's my right knee, lower back, or flare-ups associated with ulcerative colitis, I am the master at finding reasons for not practicing.
This one is tricky—at all times, you must honor your body. However, keep in mind that both injury and illness present you with an amazing gift during your asana practice. The intentionality of each movement and each breath becomes that much more crucial. Perhaps instead of your default "full steam ahead," you take the time to listen and feel your body, instead of pushing and conquering it. The beauty of asana is that you can customize each practice to what your body needs that day—some days more restorative, and others more active.
Heaven forbid yoga get in the way of your social life! I always say: "There's no WE time if there is no ME time first." Invite your friends to yoga. They may decline, but that's okay. Keep in mind that your example shows them that self-love is a practice to which you are fully committed. You never know who you are inspiring with your daily decisions. Plus, you have an opportunity to make some yoga friends who are dedicated to their asana just like you.
Believe it or not, I have had the following stream of thought more than once: "I don't have enough time to get gas and fight traffic. Parking is always a mess and if I can't be there 15 minutes before the class starts, I am not going." If I'm honest, in those moments, I'm not prioritizing my practice. I'm letting silly things that can be avoided by planning get in the way of what really matters to me.
I've used this one once or twice. I've learned to keep my mat in the trunk of my car along with a change of clothes, yoga mat towel, and face towel for sweating. Again, don't let silly things that can be avoided by planning get in the way of what matters to you.
I lived in Houston for four years and I drive a Honda Fit. In Houston, an afternoon shower can turn into a full-fledged flood. Not good. Because of this, I am now overly sensitive to weather and have used it as an excuse many a time to not head to the shala. Exercise caution when it comes to the weather. Don't put your life in danger. But you can still practice: Perhaps it's an opportunity to check out online yoga offerings and practice at home.
Lack of financial resources can keep us from paying membership fees at our favorite yoga studio. Well it's time to get creative yogi. Most yoga studios offer some form of volunteer exchange—you help out around the studio for a couple of hours a week in exchange for free yoga classes. If your studio doesn't currently offer it, suggest it. Are you a social media maven? Graphic designer? Perhaps offer your services in exchange for yoga lessons. Don't let money stop you from practicing. You can also check out the free online offerings from amazing yoga teachers across the world. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Let's face it: There are days when we simply don't feel like practicing. We are human, after all. Give yourself the gift of self-compassion. Learn to listen to your body and differentiate between the real need for rest and self-sabotage—it's a game changer. Asana is both a practice and a marathon. Don't beat yourself up for missing one day—just don't let one day turn into one month and then turn into one year.
Recommit yourself to your practice and remember why you started in the first place. Let your values light you up and inspire you to begin again every single day. It's only when you start prioritizing your asana practice that you will start reaping the benefits of your practice.
Life will always give you a million reasons not to get on your mat. Even if it's only 10 minutes of Sun Salutations a day, make the commitment to step on your mat, give the best you can that day, and surrender the outcome.
You deserve to see what you are capable of, both on and off your mat.