Yoga studio office; shelf with ornaments, posters and yoga towels

The Novice Yogi Diaries: making time for the mat

I started going to hot yoga classes at a very manic time.

Last month I was adjusting to life in a new flat, and my future was looking slightly shaky (oh hello, looming unemployment, thanks to a temporary work contract). Needless to say, by mid-May I was feeling unstable, uncertain and a little unlike myself.

I was worried that adding something new and scary to the mix, even as simple as regular hot yoga practice, would push me over the edge; that I wouldn’t have time with all the worrying I was doing, that I would exhaust myself and I would fail before I even got into a routine.

I’ve been practicing yoga with Southampton’s first hot yoga studio, In Balance Hot Yoga, for just over a month now, and I can safely say that none of the above happened.

Isn’t that always the way?

In fact, having a new project to focus on – one which also promoted relaxation, focus, and discipline – really helped with this instability in my life. I had a studio to escape to, something new (and tricky!) to distract me from my thoughts, and proof that change can be good. I got to move my body more, and stretch out those tense muscles that had been knotted up by the built-up tension and from moving boxes around.

This also brought to light one of the many reasons I accepted this challenge from Benedita, the owner of the studio; that I should learn to keep up my yoga routine and practice as best as I could, no matter what life threw at me, and how busy I was.

Starting at such a busy time in my life was the perfect opportunity to put this to the test.

This is what I want to focus on in the third installment of my series, The Novice Yogi Diaries: making time for practice.

Yoga studio office; shelf with ornaments, posters and yoga towels

Are you ever too busy for yoga?

In my introductory blog post, I highlighted the fact that most of my (limited) yoga practice in the past – and in fact, all of my fitness pursuits, including the gym – had a sporadic and often short lifespan. If I was feeling stressed, if life was busy, or if I was feeling tired, exercise was always the first thing to go. Despite the guilt, I would throw in the towel – literally, into my laundry basket – tuck my gym kit away, and do whatever had taken priority. Usually sleep, rest, or an evening curled up on the sofa.

This would not do.

While I am on my yoga journeyI want to nip this habit in the bud.

It’s important to maintain routine, and to prioritise your body and mind; stretching, meditating and strengthening your muscles has so many benefits, it would be stupid to throw that all away for an extra evening on the sofa, a trip into town, or even a late night in the office. But it’s so easy to say no, and so easy to convince yourself that your body needs to stop, rather than to move.

So could I crack this habit of mine? Could I prioritise yoga and ignore my habitual need to cancel?

Well, so far in this first month, it’s been a mixed bag. I’ll be honest.

I have tried to attend classes two-to-three times a week so far. I have, mostly, done this, as much as possible, and I am proud of that…

Except for the time I felt nauseous at my desk and thought that spending an hour mostly upside down would not be advisable…

…and the time I had a date with an espresso martini (and maybe a man), and had to wait until the next class…

…and the time my cramps were so bad the thought of bending over in lycra in a sweaty room felt like the stuff of nightmares…

However, I have pushed myself to go when I have felt utterly exhausted and incredibly down; when all I wanted to do was crawl in a hole, cry, and go to sleep. When the last thing I wanted to do was to move, push myself, sweat and do something challenging.

And let me tell you, those days when I really pushed myself to go? They were the best. I left those sessions feeling strong, supple and so much better about myself. I even felt more awake – surprisingly!

It turns out that when you cancel, you not only push back your physical progress, but you impact your own mental health too. You’re sabotaging yourself; you think you’re doing what’s best for your body and mind, but you’re actually making things worse.

I still have a little way to go when it comes to self-motivation; I have not bailed on a class without a good excuse, but I have canceled the odd session here and there, and I would like to work harder to prioritise practice and see what benefits I can reap.

So far, I have practiced more yoga in the last month than I did in about six months last year; that is an achievement, and I am so proud; but let’s see if I can improve even more, eh?

Here’s to even fewer cancellations this month, to more stamina, and to saying ‘no’ less.

Do you practice yoga? How do you keep up with classes or self-taught sessions without finding excuses to cancel? Let me know in the comments below!

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Disclaimer

I’m working in collaboration with In Balance Hot Yoga to develop my yoga skills, improve my mental and physical health and challenge myself over the next few months. I have been given free membership in return for recording my journey with them, but my opinions, feedback, and experiences in my posts on here and on my social media accounts are all completely honest and my own, and I will always include the good, the bad and the ugly.

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