This is what happened when I didn’t do yoga for weeks

July 13, 2023 0 Comments

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I recently had an unfortunate incident involving a can of chickpeas and a butter knife. I’ll spare you the gory details of the lunchtime incident, but I ended up with two not-so-pretty cuts and at least three layers of red tape on my middle and thumb. Now I had “Elmo’s arm,” as my friend jokingly put it.

It has become almost impossible for me to engage in any physical yoga practice. So I missed a few weeks of yoga. After all, what’s a couple of missed lessons?

Well, I have a confession to make here: I had been neglecting my practice for at least two weeks at that point. I had various excuses: I was tired; my friend bailed me out; I’ve just been browsing yoga content all day. I ended up spending more time outside the studio than is appropriate for a Yoga Journal editor. (At least that’s what my friends reminded me of.)

Physical practice is only one component of yoga. In theory, I could practice the other seven limbs. But as a loud, extroverted, fast-paced person, I find the asana part of the practice to be what unlocks the other elements of the ancient practice. In a darkened studio, with my body tested but still and my mind still, I might consider something like pratyahara (renunciation of the senses) or dharana (concentration) when prompted by my teacher. These moments are sacred. I try to recreate those times outside of the traditional studio.

The time spent away from my practice confirmed this thesis – something I did not hesitate to admit to myself. I felt the consequences. I was more nervous, distracted, and generally a little more confused about my day. Of course, I relied on other self-care strategies—my runs along the river (my legs were healthy!), my five-minute meditations, and my phone calls to friends. But a small void remained.

I found myself using a piece of advice I often give to friends in relationships (or more often than not, situations): sometimes you don’t appreciate something until it’s gone. Maybe I really needed a break from physical practice to realize its place and importance in my life. When I finally got back to the warm room and my favorite rug, I was genuinely excited for the first time in a long time. It felt like I was re-experiencing this practice for the first time.

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