How I Got Out of My Yoga Rut

I didn’t even know that I was in a rut until I moved across the country. I was introduced to yoga and did my teacher training in San Francisco, one of the yoga meccas of the U.S. I had my choice of amazing studios, talented teachers and supportive communities. But, looking back now, I was in a rut!

After taking several years of hatha, I was introduced to vinyasa by a co-worker about three years ago. It was love at first down dog: the pace, the sequencing, and the clarity I felt afterward, were addicting. So, like many, I frequented the same studios and the same teachers over and over again. Sure I’d mix it up here and there, but for the most part I was very consistent with what classes I considered "my" classes.

Naturally, when I moved to Boston, I went into overdrive trying to find a studio, a teacher, a sequence, exactly like those that I was used to back home. Not surprisingly, I didn’t find it.

Halfway through each new class, I'd get anxious. My mind would start racing, comparing the classes, the cues, what I was feeling, how warm the room was. With all the change in my personal life, I was looking for yoga to be the constant. This was not my yoga. Something needed to change.

But, in a class a few weeks ago, a funny thing happened. A teacher’s cue to rotate my upper hip in side angle opened up my pose in a brand new way. Then another teacher gave me an adjustment I’d never seen before, and it worked really well. Not long after, in an afternoon class, an explanation on setting intentions was so stated so simply that it resonated like no other description had before.

After class, I started thinking that maybe I had it all wrong. Maybe the something that needed changing was myself. My strict rules of what yoga should look and feel like were limiting, leaving me in a rut both physically and mentally. I could learn from these new experiences, if I stopped comparing them to something else. Shame on me for thinking I could uproot my whole life and leave my yoga practice behind!

Obviously you don’t need to move across the country to shake up your practice. Seek out a different studio, a different teacher, a different style. Maybe listen more closely to the cues from the teacher instead of going straight into the pose on autopilot. If change isn’t really your thing, start small: switch up where you place your mat during class--a different location might lead to a new perspective.

As I continue get more comfortable with the classes and the teachers in my new area, I’ll work harder to not fall into another rut this time. I’ll try to remember that these new opportunities are adding to my practice, not taking away from it in. And the next time I head back to my old classes in San Francisco, I’m sure I can look at them with fresh perspective as well.

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