Are You A Yoga Addict? And Is That Such A Bad Thing?
Yoga can make everyday feel like your birthday. It is a wonderful system of lifestyle management, showering practitioners with a wide spectrum of positive gifts wrapped in all sorts of paper and bows. You know what else makes every day feel like your birthday? Heroin.
Addiction is fun — that’s why it’s addictive. Some people can remain in control when surrounded by presents, finding as much joy in anticipation as they do with the gift or surprise. Others, like myself, are slaves to the blissful high of frenzied unwrapping. It’s easy to crave that yoga body, that meditator’s mind, and that unicorn handstand, especially when everyone else already seems to have what you desire.
Many come to the yoga mat to release some sort of suffering, yet get caught suffering from the competition of self. It’s very easy to trade one addiction for another. Many flip from party monster to ultra-marathon runner or yogi extraordinaire in the blink of an eye. Just because you no longer make large cash withdrawals from ATMs late at night doesn’t mean you can stop any time you want.
Having an addictive personality simply means you're ready to fully commit ... to all of the things you like … all the time. To be perfectly blunt, in most cases a yoga addiction isn’t a bad thing at all. It just means you don’t half-asana your practice. It’s all or none, yin or yang. Over and over and over and out.
1. Use the Force. You've been gifted a wonderful power.
That's right, young Jedi-yogi. Learn to focus that abundant energy in a balanced and well-rounded fashion. Don’t just go for strength — embrace flexibility, and vice versa. If the only tool you have is a hammer, every challenge in life starts to look like a nail.
2. Enjoy the gifts you already have.
It's wasteful to keep opening presents without appreciating the ones you’ve already received. You spent so much time trying to get the skills in the first place. Use ‘em! If you pack every waking moment with NEW and EXCITING and CHALLENGING, there will eventually come a time where you will have no more space for the most important gift of them all:
3. Gratitude, the real gift that keeps on giving.
Who cares if you did? Bask in the glory that you CAN. It’s amazing that you could, and even more so that you decided you should. It makes no difference HOW good your practice is without a healthy WHY. There are few things as satisfying as a three-hour marathon yoga session. Don’t just revel in the glorious body-buzz of the yoga glow (aka the yogi version of the runner’s high). Bask in the heart-warming realization how blessed you are to truly enjoy the experience.
4. Listen to your body.
As a teacher, few things are harder to watch than a student who refuses to practice accurate self-assessment. If you are quick to follow every direction during vinyasa to the most challenging variation, yet refuse to back off from that hamstring strain by ignoring all of the warning signs (both inside and out), maybe you earned that muscle tear. Just sayin’…
5. Practice everything in moderation, including yoga.
Too much of a good thing is still too much. Consider this a confession from someone who was once an addict in constant recovery. Yoga isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. I’m not saying you shouldn’t attempt to DO ALL OF THE YOGA. Just remember that constant states of rapid expansion usually end with a massive bang.
Wring your sponge out from time to time in order to absorb more. Otherwise, things just get sloppy. So it goes with yoga: If your practice is starting to fray around the edges, what steps can you take to ensure you maximum capacity for absorption with minimum leakage? Spoiler alert: take a break from cleaning, fellow yoga neat-freak, so you can let all of your experiences really soak in.