You know what I’m talking about right? Two steps forward, one step back. Or, sometimes, it might feel more like one step forward, ten steps back. Postures you once were able to accomplish seem to have been taken away from you. Or there is progress in one area, such a back bending, but you are going no where when it comes to forward bending. It’s a little, well… frustrating.
What to do? Give up? Now, you know that is NOT the answer. But there are ways to take a step forward without taking a step back. Interested?
Here are some tips from a yogi that has taken her fair share of steps forward, steps backward, and had to take a look at what was working and what definitely was not working. I’ve learned the yoga cha-cha isn’t the worst dance in the world. It makes me want to roll out my mat even more.
Your thoughts are everything.
You might practice upwards of three times a week, but while you practice what are you thinking about or telling yourself?
If the thoughts are: Nothing is changing. Why do I do this? I should never wear these yoga shorts again – they’re awful and my legs look awful in them. My knee/hip/shoulder/lower back/neck/etc. have always hurt and always will. Or something along these lines.
It’s time to clean up your thoughts. What’s holding you back may not have anything to do with your physical limitations and everything to do with the limitations you are putting on yourself with all of that negative self-talk. Notice it first and then find positive words or affirmations to take their place.
When I hear that critical chatter start up in my mind during my practice, I turn to my favorite positive thoughts, such as: Life is good. The Universe always has my back. All is well. I release all doubts and fears. I am in the process of healing my body and my mind. I am strong. Sounds hokey? It does until you try it and find that it works.
Start searching for answers.
When I feel more like my body is falling apart, than coming together, I start to ask questions and actively look for the answers. What posture is making me feel like this? Why? Is my alignment off? I’ll have a teacher take a closer look at it, contact a senior teacher to see what they think, and pay closer attention to that posture while I’m practicing. Be an advocate for feeling your best.
Work smarter, not harder.
All too often I’ve had to go back to the beginning of a posture and start all over again to truly understand it. For me, the postures that tend to fall apart are the ones I treated with a bit of aggression instead of understanding and patience. Be okay with taking a few steps back, so you can take a leap forward. Enjoy the dance.
Get on your mat even more.
The only way you can get better at anything, is to practice. Yoga included. If you’ve been practicing only once or twice a week, see if you can make it to your mat at least one more time a week. Yoga is the study of you. It is time to figure out what is going on with your body and your mind and work to release all of the things that are not serving you.
Be okay with where you are.
This is HARD. The hardest. Maybe you were able to do Hero Pose for years and now you can’t go back into it without your knees bothering you. Take it easy.
The only reason it’s frustrating is because you want it to be something other than what it is. It is what it is. Back off. Start again. You are STILL a good yogi. You are STILL a good person. Something is shifting and even though it feels negative, maybe things are finally shifting into right alignment. Maybe you are on track to this huge healing moment that you will miss if you force yourself to go further than you should.
Hopefully these tips help you out if you feel like you’ve been on the dance floor for a while now and are wondering when the music will stop. Remember, it’s just a cha-cha and it doesn’t have to be maddening or frustrating, but can actually be a bit of fun too.
Even the tiniest step forward in your yoga practice is a step you should be proud of. Yoga is not easy – it’s simple. Show up, do your best, and get in tune with You – the most important person and relationship in your life.
Tori Hicks-Glogowski is a yoga instructor and yoga business coach and mentor for yoga teachers. She is the author of the book, "Views from the Podium: The Life & Times of a Hot Yogi," and has been writing and sharing her yoga experience for the past seven years. Find out more about Tori now.