Ever since I was a kid, I have sung in choirs, in musicals, a cappella groups, and even the occasional rock opera. Even when I sound like a laryngitic cat, I relish the attempt.
About a year ago, I started to take singing lessons. Yay, I thought! Now I will have the opportunity to sing more often and spend time on something I love. What fun, what joy, what a gift!
After about the second week, my brain started in:
- “Oh, now I have to practice”
- “Thank god I practiced, now I can check that off my list.”
- “Oh, I suck because I don’t want to practice”
- “Uh-oh, I have a lesson and I haven’t practiced”
- “Ugh, why did I schedule a lesson?”
- “I hate singing.”
I turned singing – something that I loved – into an irritating obligation. See, we humans are funny critters. Invite us to do something that we love, and we’re ecstatic. Tell us that we have to do it, and we become mopey and resistant.
This “flip” happens in our yoga practice as well.
When we first begin to practice, our mind and bodies sing with happiness. “I can’t believe I found yoga,” we gush. “I absolutely love my practice! I need my practice.”” But as time moves forward, we start to turn yoga into something to check off our list. “Gotta get my practice in. Good, now I can check that off the list. Done.”
Ironically, in forgetting to relish our practice, we deprive ourselves of the very experience that we made time for!
This holiday season, give yourself a special gift. Reclaim the quiet, profound, and personal gifts of your own yoga practice:
- When you arrive on your mat, take a moment and pause. Really. Take a breath.
- Let go of the checklist.
- Get rid of your agenda.
- Remember why you came back to your practice in the first place.
- Enjoy your time to simply breathe and move.
And, as you approach the holidays, consider if there are other places outside of your practice that you are setting yourself up for this same “flip.”
- Holiday parties
- Seeing our friends
- Buying presents
- Making time for our family
- Eating holiday treats
These opportunities to connect, feel, and play become dreary when we turn them into obligatory errands or appointments. Ask yourself: are you clearing off your to-do-list, or can you give yourself the time to fully enjoy the richness of these once-a-year experiences?
Nourish yourself this holiday season by accepting the gifts that are already right in front of you.
Drink every last drop of their eggnoggy goodness.