You are not alone
For the Days When It’s Hard to Hit the Mat
Know that you are never alone on the days that you just can’t make it to your mat to practice. Incorporate intentional movement on a moment to moment basis without even calling it yoga. Treat your body as the temple it is, and move it in ways that feel good, no matter what you’re doing or where you are.
As a long-time yogi, there have been stretches of time where I went a month or more without rolling out my mat for an intentional yoga session. In the past, I felt weird about calling myself a yogi because I didn’t practice every day and didn’t want to come across as an imposter. Though, in time, I’ve come to realize that we don’t need expensive athletic wear or even a mat to take some time once in a while to practice. I realized that there is no perfection, and that others struggle with making it to the mat some days, too. Incorporating yoga into a moment-to-moment basis has revolutionized the way I practice. Getting to the mat always feels right, but it’s essential to remember that we don’t need a mat to connect with our bodies and higher self, especially during times of stress and mental chaos.
It’s a little overwhelming at times to carve out chunks of time each day to complete miscellaneous tasks (even though they make us feel good), like mindful yogic exercises and slowed breathing. Sometimes, it’s because I’m up to my eyeballs with jumbled tasks on my to-do list, and yoga seems to always fall near the end of this list or doesn’t happen before I have to leave for the office. More often than not, I feel like I’m chasing time and that if I take even a moment to slow down, then I will miss something or fall behind. I realize that this never-ending feeling of FOMO or fear of missing out on something unknown, I am doing myself more harm than good. I’m working on it, and baby steps are all I can ask of myself.
I know I’m not alone in experiencing struggles to make my way to the mat. On some days, it just doesn’t happen, and I have learned to accept that I am not less of a person because I don’t work out every single day. I know I’m still doing good for my body on days I cut my yoga sessions short when time is limited because I am doing something rather than nothing at all. Our society does a really good job of putting pressure on us to work harder, be better, and sacrifice to get ahead. I feel like we live in a period of time that glamorizes being a workaholic without having time to enjoy our day to day, or make our health a priority.
Perfectionism is an ideal that is pushed onto us through social media, with unrealistic ideals appearing as the norm through a filtered lens by elite folk. And just because I don’t always find myself with slowed breathing and a mindful eye on the mat, doesn’t mean that yoga doesn’t exist in my day to day life.
It’s easy to forget that yoga is about moving the body in ways that feel good. It’s likely that you’re incorporating movement that would be classified as yoga throughout your day without even realizing it. I try to make it a habit to really stretch every couple of hours at work and really get the knots and kinks moving. I feel my best when I have the ability to express primitive movements, and it is especially helpful to break up the monotony of sitting in a rolling chair for seven hours straight.
Sometimes I find myself taking a quiet moment to just dance around my office when nobody is there. I put on some Jazz and enjoy uninhibited natural expression. Of course, I can do this at home (and you can bet I do). I specifically try to do this at work because it puts my at ease in my workspace. It’s like I subconsciously give myself permission to do what makes me feel good, and take a break or slow down when I notice nervous energy arising within me.
Take your practice off the mat and into each moment. Any time can be yoga time. Give yourself permission to be free from societal rules that force us out of our natural state, and enjoy life as it comes. Just remember to always move in ways that feel good, and you will be the best yogi you know.
Susie is a vegan, yogi, and writer. She has her Bachelor's in Psychology from Rutgers University and is passionate about mental health.