But what I really love most of all about yoga is having already done yoga.
It’s not easy to get on the mat where there are so many other things to do (like scrolling through Twitter for the 40th time today!) and as someone with anxiety it’s downright intimidating to look ahead to 30+ minutes of being alone with my thoughts and pull the trigger. So I procrastinate or I don’t practice yoga often, even if every time I do I walk away thinking “I should do this more often”.
I’ve tried to do 30 day challenges before, but I’ve never been able to stick to it through the end before my most recent attempt, following along with Adriene Mishler’s TRUE 30 Day Yoga Journey on her channel, Yoga with Adriene. On the 6th day of the challenge, right about the point where I was about to “take a few days off” and then forget about trying to keep up with it altogether, Adriene said something that hit me right in the gut.
She said, “There’s no cheating in yoga, you make it your own.”
What I discovered when I started thinking about why this phrase hit me so hard it’s because I had this idea of yoga as something else to judge myself on. I had to be able to do all the positions, I had to be able to do them well, I had to do a full practice everyday — all these goals that have nothing to do with the actual goal of yoga which is to spend time checking in with my mind and body in a way that feels good.
When Adriene said “there’s no cheating in yoga” it clicked for me. I was trying to power through and have a perfect practice, and I felt like anything less than that was “cheating”. This attitude of succeeding or failing was zapping the joy out of my yoga. Of course I didn’t feel like doing yoga every day if doing yoga was just another thing that made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.
The purpose of having a practice — the whole entire reason I want to practice yoga every day isn’t to be perfect at something. I just want a consistent mind/body practice that I do at least once a day. This goal is a lot easier to achieve, especially once I identified it for what it is and separated out my expectations that it had to look a certain way.
I realized that every time I had previously failed to develop a daily practice, it’s because I was trying to rely on willpower to push myself through day after day. I wasn’t enjoying it and I wasn’t naturally desiring to do it because I was out of sync with my goal. I was judging myself about how perfectly I showed up and moved through the practice instead of letting go and showing up for my goal of being present.
Yoga with Adriene helped me understand that I won’t need to rely on willpower to do yoga everyday when my goal is “enjoy doing yoga every day” instead of “push myself to do something I don’t enjoy every day.”
There really has been a lot of freedom in moving forward with my practice and adopting the philosophy that “there’s no cheating in yoga.” If I want to do an entire Yoga with Adriene video and sit with my forehead on the mat in child’s pose, I can. After a few minutes, I usually don’t feel like doing that, but it helps me a lot to have that permission. I start, I check in with myself, I breathe, I feel better, and then I usually get into the flow and start following along. Also, for the record it doesn’t her that her extremely beautiful pup Benji makes an appearance!!!
If you’re a beginner, or if you’re like me and have struggled to cultivate a daily practice, give Yoga with Adriene a try, and remind yourself as much as you have to that there’s no cheating in yoga. Adriene is gentle and encouraging, she will tell you to “find what feels good” instead of having any judgement about what your posture looks like which is really helpful in feeling good about what you can do today instead of obsessing about what it’s supposed to look like at an advanced level.