- We’re too busy. This one is the most obvious, and in many cases, the most untrue. Sure, our lives can feel quite full, but unless you have young children, chances are that you have time for some asana, but are just putting other things first. I do this all the time. There’s always another distraction or entertaining bit of consumption waiting for us in this modern world. With services like Youtube putting out more minutes of new video per day than there are minutes in a human life, there is no danger of running out of distractions.
Ultimately, however, this one comes down to priorities, focus, and remembrance. Is our health more important to us than the latest viral video? For me, my body says yes, but my behaviour often tells a different story. When I’m focused, however, instead of just putting my attention on the next item in my social media feed, there is the possibility that I’ll remember my priorities and change my behaviour.There is a mental parallel as well. It’s not hard to catch ourselves putting our bodies in postures while our minds are elsewhere. The business of life can keep us off the mat, or keep us from being present when we’re on the mat. It is our ability to put the business of life to the side and focus on ourselves which is the supportive core of our practice.
- Our bodies are sore. Now, this particular reason can run the gamut from justified reason to justifying our own laziness. Barring some kind of injury needing actual rest, however, will asana improve your overall physical experience? Yoga asana has a way of bringing us to the edge of our discomfort, so it’s no surprise that an engaged practice may lead to some physical soreness, but it is also the case that doing regular asana actual helps the body become stronger and more limber, both of which decrease pain over the long term.Ultimately, this one comes down to honouring one’s current condition, and being honest with ourselves about the nature of our pain, and our resistance to pain. This plays out on the mat as well. Knowing the difference between the discomfort that can arise when rubbing up against a personal boundary and the pain that arises when attempting to cross a physical boundary is key to establishing a physically supportive practice.
The mental parallel here is around honouring our mental and emotional pain. Asana is a wonderful tool, but all tools have both purpose and limitation. Sometimes that laziness might be something deeper that needs to be brought to light, and to that end, forcing ourselves onto the mat is not a sure-fire approach to our well-being. The only person capable of knowing the right course of action is you, at that moment. You can plan to get on the mat, but never put the plans of yesterday above your current reality.
- It’s too hard to stay motivated. This is one I experience a lot. When our motivation is flagging, getting on the mat can seem like too much effort. Once on the mat, your challenging postures might also seem too much effort. Holding postures for your normal duration may seem like too much effort. This is really a fair point. We didn’t evolve to do focused exercise for the sake of it, but to have it physicality integrated in the way we live. Pushing ourselves to get on the mat when we’re neither busy nor hurt still takes a considerable act of willpower, especially when we’re not grounded in the practice or a routine.This is where asana classes can be helpful. In a class setting, we can surrender our will to the teacher, and let them be the driving force which motivates us. With their support, we tend to be more willing to get into challenging postures and to hold postures for longer periods of time. Even people with a strong home practice can get tremendous benefit from asana classes, as teachers can often give useful feedback on your progress, or even give you variations to improve the efficacy of postures that you’ve stopped finding engaging.
The mental parallel is subtle. Asana classes, for all the good they can offer us, aren’t at all useful if we don’t attend them, and attending a class is even more effort than just doing one’s personal practice. This is where money comes into play. We’re much more likely to do something if we’d paid for it in advance. This is part of the reasoning for why we offer 10-class passes and monthly passes. Having that output of energy is a commitment that we make to our future selves to push through the inertia and fluctuations of willpower and make good on our intentions. In a way, we’re allowing our past self to exert upon our future self the kind of influence that a teacher in the context of the class does.