Not so long ago, during a sweaty yoga class, while moving laboriously between a Warrior One and a wobbly Eagle pose, the thought came suddenly, unbidden, God, I hate yoga.
It’s not unusual for my mind to wander during a yoga class. I become distracted by rogue thoughts about anything from what I’m going to have for breakfast, to the cool leggings on the girl beside me and where I can buy them for myself.
But to suddenly find myself loathing the practice and desperately wishing that I was anywhere else, doing anything else?
This was a dire about-turn for me.
Did I mention I’m a yoga teacher? As you can imagine, hating yoga is not conducive to being productive as an instructor.
It’s not that I’ve never "hated" yoga before. In fact, when I first started regularly practicing yoga, I was attending classes at a Bikram studio close to my office in London, and I very frequently hated yoga then. It wasn’t the right practice for me and I didn’t understand that yet.
But when I started practicing yoga at a Core Power studio in Los Angeles, I finally realized that yoga didn’t need to feel like a torturous obligation to my body. I loved going to class every day, and I frequently sprang out of bed early in the morning for the promise of a great yoga practice.
Even when I was in teacher training, often practicing more than once a day, cramming my brain with Sanskrit and anatomy, and battling through a knee injury, I still loved yoga. So what went wrong?
At the time I really began to shy away from the mat, I had just abandoned yoga therapy training and was teaching crazy hours as an instructor. Quickly, I went from having no work at all, to teaching up to 15 classes a week, after agreeing to cover for other instructors when they went on vacation.
Teaching repeatedly in one day and driving all over the city, I was tired, disillusioned, and often hated teaching, let alone taking classes. I began to suspect that by making a beloved passion my job, I had killed it.
It wasn’t until my work load became quieter and I had a chance to pursue other opportunities that I was able to re-evaluate and reconnect. The first positive move was to simply work less. Any yoga teacher will tell you that working three to four classes a day is insane, no matter how much you need the money.
With my class schedule dropping dramatically, my body began to recover and I was able to take classes more regularly. I also stopped teaching classes which I was not enjoying. Whether it was because I had over-committed my travel time, I wasn’t connecting with the students, or I simply disliked the space, those classes had to go. They did, and I instantly felt all the better for it. Shedding the weight of these commitments meant that I could allow myself to enjoy time with other students and proactively pursue work opportunities which I actually felt benefited both myself and the yogis I was instructing.
Now, I’m delighted to report that I no longer hate yoga. Sometimes I hate getting up before dawn, or working on the weekend, but it’s still a job and I do what I have to do because I would rather be leading a yoga class than sitting at a desk in an office, checking the clock every five minutes and wishing I was doing something that I enjoyed.
The passion isn’t dead, it just needed to be revived with a little care, and a reminder of why I loved it enough to make it my work.