I remember watching the documentary Enlighten Up, in which director Katie Churchill (a yoga devotee) introduces Nick Rosen (a yoga skeptic) to the practice by traveling thousands of miles with him to explore yoga with numerous teachers. In one scene she laughs and admits that she’s getting sick of yoga. At the time, I found this to be an odd sentiment coming from someone so invested in yoga that she made a documentary designed to show its power to transform anyone.
Looking back, though, I can totally understand how she might have needed a break from a life of almost nothing but yoga—conceiving a film about yoga and traveling the world to direct it while continuing to practice may have been too much!
When I first saw this movie I was a new teacher and wanted to do everything yoga, all the time. I couldn’t ever imagine NOT wanting to practice or needing a change of pace. I wanted every vacation to be yoga-themed, every writing assignment to be yoga-focused, and I was hungry to take as many classes and trainings as possible.
Soon I was teaching yoga, writing about yoga, offering yoga workshops, getting involved in training yoga teachers, and practicing as much as I could. What can I say? I was in love and yoga loved me back; we were on our honeymoon. But eventually the passion began to wane.
The first thing to go was my own practice—I gradually realized that I just wasn’t doing it as much anymore. I guess all the time and energy I previously had for my practice got directed to all my other yoga endeavors.
Some yogis experience the same phenomenon; others never will. But if you’ve ever found your eyes starting to wander away from your beloved yoga, here are some tips and tricks to keep the passion alive without breaking up altogether. I eventually arrived at a new balance in my yoga life by trying them all.
1. Sometimes a change is better than a break.
Adding variety to your personal practice can refresh your body, mind, and spirit. Go for a flow that’s totally different than the one you’re accustomed to. Do yoga nidra, or another form of guided relaxation, to add a little more pause to your life. Try different teachers, a new studio, or even private or semi-private lessons to switch things up.
“Dating” around will either provide you with more practices to love or reinforce your fondness for your original yoga love.
Use this exploration as an opportunity to really get to know yourself. If you tend to do only one style of yoga, become more of a generalist, perhaps by setting a goal to try up to five different types of yoga in a month. Swap your vinyasa for some yin. If you’re a gentle yoga devotee, investigate more vigorous classes. “Dating” around will either provide you with more practices to love or reinforce your fondness for your original yoga love.
On the flip side, if you tend to already be a practice generalist, why not narrow your focus? You could devote yourself to one type of yoga, say yin, for a week, two weeks, or a month and immerse yourself in the practice. Make this mini-immersion an experiment and see how you feel at the end of the trial run. You could even supplement this deeper dive by attending a workshop, conference, or retreat in that particular style of practice. Thankfully, many workshops and conferences are hosted online, some of which are free, even if for a limited period of time.
Once you start to consider the yoga options available to you, you might realize that the possibilities are endless.
2. Complement your yoga practice with another activity.
As much as you may love your practice, it’s also important to explore activities that aren’t yoga (and yoga, as it turns out, can be a great complement to just about anything). Like to hike? A stretchy, feel-good asana class can soothe sore muscles after you hit the trail, and a dedicated meditation practice can lead to more mindfulness, helping you stay present and connected while you’re in the natural world.
Love to paint? Correlations have been made between doing yoga and experiencing bursts of creative insight, so you may be missing out if you don’t follow your muse. And as a bonus, yoga can also help you quiet your monkey mind in preparation for some focused artistic time. Sure, maybe you’ll have to make adjustments to your schedule, but with all the choices these days—which include myriad online classes—it’s easier to squeeze practice and other pursuits into your day.
3. Think short term.
Sometimes you fall out of love with yoga because you feel overwhelmed with everything on your plate. Even though you enjoy yoga, it is one more thing to schedule, to live, to experience. And rightly or wrongly, sometimes it ends up seeming like one more item on the to-do list. This doesn’t mean you’re doing yoga wrong—everyone has a different experience and is allowed to have that experience. But if this happens to you, take your practice one step, or one breath, at a time.
Perhaps you can commit to practicing for ten minutes or meditating for five. Even devoting a small chunk of your time to yoga can be beneficial (after all, even one deep breath has physical and energetic benefits). If you stop your practice after five or ten minutes, that’s okay—it still keeps you connected to the experience.
Even devoting a small chunk of your time to yoga can be beneficial (after all, even one deep breath has physical and energetic benefits).
If you keep practicing longer, that’s great too. Don’t worry about the next session, class, meditation, or item on your to-do list either. Let yourself move forward one minute, one breath at a time, without judgment.
4. Make it social.
Make a yoga date and you’ll be more likely to show up for a class. Or, if you’re practicing at home, have a check-in partner to whom you can “report” the completion of your practice. Make sure to pick someone who is supportive, not scolding. You could also try to enlist some family members or friends to join you for yoga—often sharing your insight and expertise can rekindle the joy.
5. Teach less, practice more.
This last point is for the yoga teachers reading. If you’re teaching a lot, your own personal practice may suffer. I know, I know, not everyone will experience this. But it happens. If you are able to lighten your regularly scheduled classes in favor of more workshops, privates, or trainings, you may find that you have more time, energy, and even love to pour back into your own precious yoga time. I realize that that’s not always financially realistic, which is why I offered some other ways to keep your practice interests piqued that may feel more manageable.
Another option is to book off a week from teaching to practice whenever and as much as you like so that you don’t have to rearrange your whole schedule. And if you’re experiencing burnout, a respite can be especially useful: You may find yourself craving the opportunity to teach again, once your foundational practice is shored up.
So if you feel like you need a break from your beloved yoga, remember: A change can be as good as a break, and absence does make the heart grow fonder. Yoga will always be there when you’re ready to return, no matter how much you may have changed nor how long the break.