The past few months have been tough. If you’ve been following my journey, then you know I was recently diagnosed with OCD and I’d be lying if I said that my world hasn’t been turned completely upside down ever since.
2018 was certainly a year of immense growth, including our big move to Manhattan, the loss of my uncle to cancer as well as a beloved pet, new jobs, new neighborhoods, more arguments with Joel than I can even count, a new puppy, and all sorts of other up’s and down’s. Needless to say, my personal yoga practice began to suffer…a lot.
Yoga is so much more than a form of fitness in my life. It is my therapy, my church, and my salvation. The time I spend on my mat and the lessons I carry with me off of it are my ultimate form of self care, and when that time starts to dwindle away…so does my sense of self.
It’s been a learning curve for sure, but slowly I’ve started to come back to my practice. I don’t flow through a 2-hour vinyasa practice every day yet, but I do meditate at least once per day and try to hop onto my mat at least a few minutes each morning. And if yoga is an integral part of your life as well, I’m guessing there have probably been times when your practice has evolved and changed with the stressors of your own life.
So, how do you come back to a yoga practice after some time away?
First and foremost, slow down. We’re all taught in our yoga classes that the most important lesson is to honor the wisdom of our bodies, and this is especially true when you’re coming back home after some time away. For me personally, this meant starting with meditation and slowly working my way back to a formal asana practice. For you, it may be the same or completely different. Just start with a small, easily attainable goal (ex. “I will meditate for 5 minutes every day”) and try to stick with it.
But Remember to Be Kind to Yourself
That said, don’t beat yourself up if you skip a day (or two…or three). When I first started taking medications for my OCD, my body and mind were physically undergoing a period of immense adjustment. My sleep schedule was off, I had days where I felt like there wasn’t enough food on the planet to satisfy my hunger and days when I ate nothing at all, and I had extreme mood swings. Needless to say, I definitely missed a few meditation sessions along the way. And you know what? It was totally fine. The best thing I could have done for myself during that time was to practice compassion – compassion towards myself, my body, and the changes I was experiencing.
When things get tough, I tried really hard to return to my gratitude practice. This grounding connection to the world around me and the divine light within us all helped ease me out of the darker moments and, interestingly enough, also lead me back to my yoga practice.
Start Each Day With Pranayama
If formal meditations and yoga poses seem a bit intimidating right now, start with your breath. Prana, or what we yogis refer to as the ultimate life source, exists in your breath and it is a phenomenal way to ease back into a yoga practice. Even a few deep breaths before you start checking emails or going about your day can make the world of difference!
Most Importantly, Invite Change
Whether you’re coping with a physical injury, loss of a loved one, or any other stress, your yoga practice has changed for a reason. Far too often we are quick to rush back into “the way things were” to avoid facing the emotions and realities that cause us pain. However, one of yoga’s greatest lessons comes in teaching non-judgment and acceptance, and the same applies during the difficult moments of life. Maybe, just maybe, your practice changed a bit for a reason. Maybe, just maybe, this evolution is one of the most important steps in the healing process…
And that’s something I’m exploring myself right now,
The Yogi Lawyer