Getting stuck is normal. Whether it’s cheating on your healthy diet or struggling with writer’s block, it’s bound to happen. What matters is how we deal with it—can we get back up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again? Feeling like we’ve failed or can’t do anything right can take us to a place of negativity and self-judgment that makes it tough to get back in the saddle.
So how does that translate to your yoga practice? Even if yoga is your passion, you might feel enormous resistance to getting on the mat some days. So what do you do when you find yourself avoiding what you love most? Kripalu presenter and clinical psychologist Arnie Kozak, who has been meditating for 30 years, says that there are days when even he struggles to sit on the cushion. What’s different now is that he doesn’t make a big deal out of it.
Arnie suggests looking at the resistance with kindness and genuine inquiry. Ask yourself, “What’s going on here?” What is it that you really fear, and what are you protecting yourself against? Sometimes what we most fear is simply being uncomfortable—either physically or emotionally.
“I think we’ve been sold on this belief that we should be comfortable all the time, so we fear discomfort,” Arnie says. “Instead, we can see these moments as something to explore”—an opportunity for mindfulness and self-inquiry. When we avoid doing things that are a bit more difficult or uncomfortable—whether that’s a hot yoga class or an hour away from e-mail—it makes us less likely to try new things, and that’s when we get stuck.
Meditation teacher and Kripalu presenter Sally Kempton says that when this happens, try getting out of your head and finding the place in your body that’s calling for attention. Maybe it’s a sore shoulder or butterflies in the stomach. Pay attention to the body, and the mind will take note.
So what’s the best way to maintain a new practice or jump-start an old one? “Both mindfulness and right action are essential,” says Aruni Nan Futuronsky, Senior Life Coach and Program Advisor for Kripalu Healthy Living programs. “One without the other will not sustain behavior change.”
Moving forward, the key is not to dwell on it when you take a misstep. Instead, see it as part of the practice. Next time you skip yoga or choose a chocolate bar instead of an apple, remember that there’s always tomorrow.