That title drew you in, didn’t it? And, it was meant to. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. When does something that’s good for you become an addiction?
Most of the world at this point would say yoga is something that is good for you. Because it is. It’s great for your body and your mind. It connects you to everything you are and allows you to leave behind everything you aren’t. Yoga is awesome.
But, it can also be addictive. When not used in the right way, like anything else, it can have a negative effect.
I often joke about how addictive a yoga practice can be. How if you hit one posture that you never even thought possible for you in the beginnings of your time on your mat, you begin to wonder what else is possible. And, thus the yoga addiction is born. But, maybe I should call it the "yoga bug" because, I believe it still makes for one hell of a healthy addiction.
But, how do you know you’ve taken it too far? When do you know that maybe that good yoga addiction is no longer good for you?
You continue to practice the same way over and over again even though you walk away from your mat feeling more injured rather than healed.
I’ve seen too many yogis insist on continuing working the way they work even after they’ve had hip surgery, or they find out they’ve completely worn down their discs in their lower spine from extreme back bending. I’ve known yogis that have to pop pain medication just to make it through a class. This is the opposite of healthy.
Make sure that if you are working with an instructor that is helping you build into a more advanced practice, they can tell you why you should be doing it, what the benefits of a particular asana are, and knows how to teach beginnings, as well as, fine tune the subtle nuances of each step along the way. Don’t just do it to do it or because you could do it before.
You refuse to take a break for fear of losing something.
A lot can be learned from a break from your practice. A few days away or even a week might actually be better for you than continuing to chug along. You’re not going to lose anything.
Yesterday I skipped my back bending practice because I was sorer than sore. You know what? The world did not end. My back bends this morning were just as deep and glorious as they were two days ago – and probably better because I listened to my body and took the break.
Everything has to go perfectly while on your mat, or your practice sucked that day.
Hello fellow perfectionist, I see you. Listen, you might not excel at every posture all of the time. It’s not a performance, it’s a practice. Walk off your mat and be grateful you got to spend a little time with your Self. And, let any nonsense about not getting into a posture, or not understanding a posture, go. It will all come together in time, or not. None of that matters. What matters is you kept going, you did the practice, and you did your best for that day and that time. That’s it.
You give up living, for your yoga practice.
If your yoga regimen consistently gets in the way of you spending time with family and friends, or experiencing the beauty of the world around you, that is a yoga addiction.
This is not to be confused with the yogi that consistently makes their practice and their time on their mat a priority. That is the goal.
But, if you spend two hours walking a wall for a deeper back bend instead of spending quality time with your partner or children, check yourself.
Remember you began this journey to improve your life. So, go out and live.
This comes from someone that spends a great deal of time on her mat - hours each day, in fact. And, I know a thing or two about addictive behavior from years battling an eating disorder. I’m not criticizing you if you have any of these tendencies, I’m just trying to shine a light.
Because for me, yoga turned everything around and I hope that it turns things around for you, too. It’s easy to take something “healthy” and turn it into something else. That’s what I did when I wanted to drop a few pounds.
Just do your best. Notice when your practice begins to have conditions, or you become too hard on yourself, or you experience chronic pain instead of healing. And, then talk to your instructor. See if they have some advice. Or, maybe seek out a new instructor that has a different view point or methodology that will bring a lightness to your practice.
And, know that your practice will have phases. There will be times where you spend a ton of time on your mat, and times where you do your practice and leave it at that. Just make sure it’s sustainable and lovely - the way a yoga practice should be.
Tori Hicks-Glogowski is an online 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.