I move into downward dog. My fingers splay and push down into the mat, my arms and wrists are firm and straight, my upper arms wrapping around so that my shoulder blades move flat and down my back. I remain here, breathing. It’s my first down dog of the evening and my shoulders burn with effort. I move into plank and chaturanga, moving forward to upward facing dog. My elbows almost give way with the effort. “What”, I ask myself, “is wrong with me? I can do these poses all night long.”
I know the answer. My practice has been slipping….slowly, slowly slipping away from me. At my peak, I was practicing four times a week – two of those classes were extremely vigorous. I was strong and lithe. Now, I may practice once a week or not at all – easy classes I could do half-aware. This has been going on for longer than I’d like to admit and I’ve lost my strength, my balance, my harmony, my tranquility.
Why did I let this happen? This happened once before in the early 90’s. I had been practicing regularly and then slowly my practice died away. I love my practice. It’s not something I love only after it’s finished. I love it before, during and after – I love the unfolding – perhaps not all poses, but, yes, definitely the practice. Am I bored? Am I practicing unthinkingly with my mind wandering elsewhere? I’ve tried changing classes – less vigorous, different styles, different teachers, and even different studios. Nothing seems to help. Is it my subconscious not wanting to make a breakthrough?
I vow this week to make it to at least four classes. I don’t want to “muscle through” if I truly don’t want to practice anymore, but I feel this decline is something different and I want to gently, lovingly encourage myself back to my practice – like with a child or a baby animal, softly guiding myself to that which is right for me.
Day 1: Class was a 1-2 but difficult for me. I faltered on my standing balances, had to chaturanga with my knees down near the end, had trouble with my standing twists, and my quads were too tight for bow. I practiced, I breathed and I left balanced. No judgment – it was a good class.