Taking a break from yoga or any fitness practice doesn’t have to mean it’s a permanent one, even if you are juggling a family, career, or health setback. It’s OK to step away from your practice once in a while, but the benefits of regular movement are just too beneficial to be permanent.
Here are a few ways to make your return to more movement a success.
1. Start With Breath
You can begin your deep breathing practice at home with minimal instruction. Pick a time of day with few interruptions, and set an intention to exercise controlled breathing just a few times a week.
Practicing mindful breathing and shifting into a calm state will prepare you for your first practice.
Tip: A break from your practice doesn’t require a break from mindful breathing. The benefits of mindful breathing are so helpful and positive that you should strive to make it a part of your home practice, with or without your practice.
2. Focus on Stress Relief
Most breaks from practice are preceded by a life change that involves stress. An illness, a job change, travel, moving, relationship changes — whatever the reason, be mindful of the stress factor.
The Mayo Clinic lists stress relief as the No. 1 potential benefit of a yoga practice. Once you visualize your return to class, you’ll recall the feelings of peace and relaxation, making it easier to sign up for that first “back to yoga” class.
3. Get on a Regular Schedule
Unintended breaks can happen when yoga isn’t a priority. When returning to your mat, commit to a regular schedule, and stick to it.
If you can’t commit to a class schedule, you don’t have to give up a guided practice. Private lessons and coaching are options; a private class can come right to your home.
Our busy lifestyles can lead to schedule interruptions on a regular basis. While group classes can be fun, it’s easier to bail on a class that requires a commute and a stringent schedule. A private class in your home won’t be subject to traffic concerns or last-minute cancellations.
4. Write It Down
For the first 30 days following your return, commit to journaling after your practice. Our busy lives often keep us moving from one checklist item to the next, making it likely that we forget how good our yoga practice makes us feel, especially if it’s interfering with work or family time. This can leave you feeling frustrated as you return to your practice.
Journaling enables you to capture the feelings of your post-yoga experience and recall them when you’re losing motivation. Please don’t feel obligated to spend a lot of time on it; even a string of adjectives on how you’re feeling will work. The journal is for your review; no one is going to proofread it!
Tip: Keep the journal and a pen near your mat as a reminder. If you don’t have to search for the journal or a pen after a yoga session, you’re more likely to use it.
5. Resist Perfection
If you’ve been away from your mat for more than 30 days, it can be tempting to jump right back into those advanced poses, but moving too fast can lead to injury.
Focus on your breath, begin with your favorite stress-reducing poses, and you’ll get back to where you were in no time. If you’re returning after an illness or recovering from surgery, tell your instructor or coach and ask for modification poses that will accommodate your health.
Remember, the benefits of mindful breathing, stretching poses, and flexibility will put you on the right path. Once you’ve built strength in these three areas, you’ll be ready to move onto a more advanced practice.