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Any yogi with a regular studio practice has had this unpleasant experience: one’s studio, the place that functioned for so long as her “happy place,” is now a location she approaches with dread. She literally has to drag herself and her mat into the room and force herself through the practice. It has happened to me several times, and it's terribly disconcerting. But take heart – there is a way (or five) out!
1. Add – or amp up – a home practice.
Throw down your mat on your house, apartment, or office floor and get moving! You know those poses that you always hope the teacher will call because you just love the way they feel in your body? When you're directing your own flow, you get to do all of them! Plus, there's no method more effective for getting yourself reignited about your yoga practice than mastering that pose or that transition that's been eluding you, without the risk of embarrassing yourself or taking a nearby practitioner down with you if you happen to fall.
2. Try a new studio.
There are two ways to go about this: You can try a studio with a similar style to your normal studio, or you can try something totally new. The benefit of a similar style is that you get to explore whether you're running away from what the practice is bringing up for you, or whether there are actual aspects of your particular studio that are no longer working for you. Get really present to what those specific things are and whether they're realistically things that can be changed by switching studios. The benefit of trying something totally new is that it's a jolt to the system – you either love it and want to add it to your repertoire, or you hate it and can’t wait to get back into your old studio.
3. Cross train.
This method of re-exciting oneself is particularly near and dear to my heart. I am a runner and a cyclist in addition to being a yogi, and I love to try new workouts. Sometimes, you really need that other form of exercise to get back into your body. Last winter, a major yoga rut coincided beautifully for me with the beginning of a marathon training program. The combination of pushing my body in a different way (and a ton of soreness and tightness I needed to work out) had me back on my mat in no time!
4. Take a well-choreographed break.
This is always my last resort, because sometimes these breaks turn out to be a way to let yourself off the hook. “Practice doesn’t feel right? Eh, screw it, I won’t do it at all.” But sometimes, especially if you have been pushing yourself too hard, this method is very necessary. Try taking a short break from everything yoga-related (maybe a day or two), then start to add meditation, pranayama, and/or a few salutations a few days per week. As you start to build those elements, begin to slowly add a fuller practice back in as well.
I discovered the well-choreographed break when a quadruple whammy of injuries forced me off my mat. When I returned to the studio, I came back too hard and too fast and began to loathe my practice. I realized my body was telling me that it wasn’t ready yet, so I took another break, then slowly, mindfully re-introduced myself, and happily found my love for my studio waiting for me on my mat.
5. Don’t beat yourself up.
Most importantly, don't feel guilty because of your antipathy toward your practice. Every relationship has its peaks and valleys – why should your relationship with your practice be any different?